Page 1

STOP PRESS OB Director General of the BBC For All The School Community . Pupils . Staff . Parents . Old Birkonians . Friends . Visitors

Published September 2012

The Financial Times score combines the points per candidate in core subjects (to measure the quantity of work) and the points per entry in core subjects (to measure the quality).

147 287 297 353 368 455 504 1082

Birkenhead School Wirral Grammar School for Girls Wirral Grammar School for Boys West Kirby Grammar School Birkenhead High School Academy Upton Hall School FCJ Calday Grange Grammar School St Anselm’s College

FT Score 3.25 2.35 2.31 1.97 1.88 1.42 1.2 -0.23

For more information visit: http://rankings.ft.com/secondary-schools/secondary-schools-2012

Congratulations to Marco Galvani who is gaining recognition for his compositions from some renowned musical quarters. He has been selected to write a piece for the world class chamber orchestra, Manchester Camerata. Marco attends specialist weekend training sessions with the Junior Royal Northern College of Music which caters for musically-gifted young people. It is through the College that he was chosen to compose for Manchester Camerata. The orchestra will play his piece in a workshop next year and will consider it for a future concert. Liverpool Cathedral’s Director of Music, David Poulter, is also considering one of Marco’s choral works for a performance and his piece,

“Alchemy”, based on heavy metal riffs, has already featured in a Junior RNCM concert. But, as if this were not enough, Marco has just been chosen to be one of the composers for the prestigious National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, whose Principal Conductor is Vasily Petrenko. Marco is tremendously excited by the prospect and waiting to hear the full details of what his selection will mean. He went for the audition on the 18th October in London. The panel of composition tutors reviewed his pieces and discussed his different musical influences — Marco thinks Mahler, Shostakovich, Sibelius and Arvo Pärt have made the biggest impact on him and the way he thinks about music. The year will includes three residential courses, when the composers will work with different parts of the orchestra. The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain is a fantastic opportunity to work with the best young musicians in the country. It commits Marco not just to writing and preparing his music for performance, but also to joining the NYO residencies during school holidays. Continued overleaf

Page 18

Page 3 and 4

Pages 13,14,15

Pages 16

Pages 24


In Focus December 2012

Page 2

Continued from front page The NYO not only sets the highest standards in music but its young musicians are expected to be role models for other young people, working with and inspiring even younger musicians and being ready to speak ‘proudly and passionately’ about the NYO. They are also expected to play their part in fundraising and communications with the media during their time with the Orchestra. One of Marco’s compositions was played at a Two Rivers Festival concert last year. He had seen Ensemble Epomeo perform the Goldberg variations at the Festival the previous year and was inspired to compose a piece called "Humoresque" for a string quintet but with Ensemble Epomeo in mind. Mr Clark heard the piece and contacted the group. The Ensemble said they would use the piece in a workshop before their 2011 Two Rivers concert. As a surprise, the ensemble also performed Marco’s piece at the concert as a short encore after they had played the Schubert quintet. Marco says, ‘This was an incredibly important experience for me as it was the first time that I heard one of my compositions performed live. It was really the defining moment when I felt for certain that music was something I wanted to pursue.’ Now in the Upper Sixth, Marco plans to study music at university and has applied for a choral scholarship at Queen’s College, Oxford. As many readers will be aware through his involvement with music in School, Marco has wide-ranging musical tastes and abilities. As well as playing guitar in the heavy metal band, Serpentia, he also has distinctions at Grade 8 in piano and singing and a merit in Grade 8 theory. He sings in the Chapel Choir, plays in the School’s Concert Band and jazz band and has provided the music, as both a player and composer, for in-house theatrical productions. He is also a member of the popular a cappella group, BarLine, which has also included his compositions in their programmes.

Little did Year 8 know the Conway Centre, Anglesey, would be the setting for the most action packed three days of their lives. After a long coach journey, there was a sharp turn left and the coach dropped us and our bags off at the start of our adventure. After being sorted into groups, we met our instructor, Jade, who was with us for the duration of the trip, and we were whisked off to the woods where we had a variety of problem-solving challenges to choose from. Completing problems earned us points for raft building on the last day. In my group, the first two problems went well, prompting some Tarzan-like behaviour, but then came the wall… The group had to boost each other up the wall to get to the top. As I was the tallest, I was left to the last and had to run and jump at the wall, leaving my fate in the hands of my team to haul me up. On the first attempt, I was hanged and stripped at the same time, as Hal grabbed my clothes instead of my arm! The second time was successful and many noisy celebrations followed. After our evening meal there were further activities - street dance and mask-making. I found the street dancing awkward as I seem to have the dancing ability of a dead goat! Maskmaking on the other hand was messy and hilarious. Waking up on Thursday morning, I had no idea that it would be the most thrilling and challenging day of my life! Our group travelled to the mountain we were to climb in high spirits but

Up the wall!

Nearly at the top.

reaching the top was no laughing matter. We had to battle nature and soldier on through “devil’s kitchen,” a ludicrously steep passage. Our final push to the summit was a struggle pushing against extremely strong winds. The less said about our raft building on our final day at the Conway Centre, the better. Cold, wet, but fun! The whole outdoor pursuits trip was packed with some very funny moments along the way. I feel that I know my friends more now and that this trip will definitely be one to remember. I’d like to thank Ms Smeaton and the Year 8 Form Tutors and Mr Bell for making this trip hard and tiring but outrageous fun. Matthew O’Hare, Year 8

Wet, wet, wet: raft disaster!


In Focus December 2012

Project Leader and Head of Science, Mr Hayward, demonstrates some principles of Chemistry to L to R: Matthias Zur from Germany, Deven Darshane L6th and Teresa Grávalos from Spain.

Birkenhead School won €25,000 in European funding for its ground-breaking student research project which is designed to inspire international co-operation in key areas of workplace research. The grant was based on the successful pilot of the project last year which involved a group of Sixth Formers joining forces with students from Spain and Germany to tackle a range of real-life scientific problems. Thanks to the funding package from the British Council and the European Commission (Comenius), the project has been able to expand and continue for the next 2 years. As well as a range of scientific research, students will now also tackle issues in Economics. The European grant will help pay for international travel for both Birkenhead students and our partner schools and fund conferences and meetings. The project is the brainchild of Headmaster John Clark and

Page 3

countries and, as well as that, it is a project which addresses genuine global research needs, which students involved in the pilot found particularly stimulating.” Twenty-four students are involved in the first part of this year’s project – eight from Birkenhead School, and eight each from Germany and Spain. All met in September for a weekend planning session at Trafford Hall, Cheshire, to discuss research they will be involved in. UK-based work during October and November included a science group representing each country joining chemists at Unilever’s Port Sunlight base to investigate the possibility of extracting the raw materials for polymers from an alternative to crude oil. At the same time, another mixed-nation group was researching the economics of sustainability with the Hankinson Painting Group in Birkenhead and another four were with their research partners in Germany and Spain. Later in the academic year, Birkenhead students will travel to Germany and Spain to evaluate the project as a whole and suggest directions further research may take. Mr Hayward thinks there are many benefits for those involved in the project, not least having a real taste of high level international research into ways of solving worldwide sustainability issues. Students also get chance to boost their language skills and experience life in a different country, BS Sixth Formers involved are Ben Pearson, Deven Darshane, Tom Atherton, Francis Good, Kevin Wong, Phyllida Frostick, Tom Gibbs and Sally Boffey.

International Research Group 2012/13 - from Britain, Germany and Spain.

The research group enjoys the challenges of Manley Mere as they get to know each other. Head of Science, Mike Hayward who are both thrilled to have attracted the funding. Mr Clark says, “It is recognition that the scheme is promoting a real spirit of co-operation, endeavour and friendship among students from different

The weekend began on a pleasant September evening when the all Comenius participants 2012/13 met at the beautiful Trafford Hall on the outskirts of Chester. After a quintessentially British meal of fish and chips, we gathered in the bar area to get to know each other better through that classic team-building game - Speed Dating. This allowed us to form bonds with our colleagues before we set off into the muddy wonderland that is Manley Mere on Saturday afternoon, after a morning of briefings on our projects. That afternoon was a lot of fun and we all enjoyed watching Tom Gibbs get a soaking in the infamous Manley Mere dunking chair! At first, those who had never experienced Manley Mere before seemed a little reserved, but after a go on the giant swinging chair and a walk across a muddy pit


In Focus December 2012

Page 4

Strategic planning

on ropes, everyone started to have a good time and then wanted to try all the activities. Later, we went back to the café, gathering round the fire to drink hot chocolate, warm up and relax. Later in the evening, we all enjoyed a big meal of roast chicken followed by chocolate fudge cake. As we all knew each other pretty well by then, we decided just to play fun games rather than supposed ‘bonding’ games. These included Splat-Bang, Pictionary and many others. Only one small accident interrupted an otherwise very successful evening which was full of laughter, when Matthias, one of the German participants, becoming over-competitive during one of the games, ended up knocking over a table covered in glasses. The following morning we woke up to wind and rain, not ideal weather for day out shopping. However, no one seemed deterred by it. Many of the visitors had already been to Liverpool on previous exchanges but still managed hours of shopping, despite a constant stream of complaints from Francis and Deven, and Ben losing his wallet. Then suddenly it was time to take the Spanish and German participants back to the airport. Overall it was a very enjoyable weekend and we look forward to taking part in the research part of the exchange and then less formally in Pamplona, when we go back in January for our presentations. Sally Boffey and Phyllida Frostick

Congratulations to the following eight girls who have been selected for Cheshire U18 Lacrosse: Millie James Lucy Rogers Annabel Saverimutto Phoebe James Vicky Wilkinson India Wild Ellie Durband Sarah Bibby

See also page 12

L to R: Edward Sherrard with Fred Ssendi and Stephen Sonko, directors of Antioch and Masaka Schools respectively, and Thomas Gibbs.

The directors of the two schools in Antioch and Masaka, Uganda, which have benefited from funding from the Rock of Joy Trust, came for a two-week visit to Wirral recently. They were paid for and hosted by supporters of the Trust. Whilst they were here, they visited the Wirral schools who have supported the Trust and told them how much it has meant to their schools. One day, they came to BS which has supported the Rock of Joy Trust for a number of years. It was one of the School’s chosen charities during its 150th Anniversary year. Following a visit to Masaka School in Uganda by Heswall Church Youth Fellowship in 2007, the Rock of Joy Trust was set up and in 2 years raised enough to rebuild the school with proper classrooms. The Trust has also supplemented teachers’ salaries up to a national wage, provided a clean water supply at the school, built new toilets, provided a nurse to look after the children and teach them health education, created a farm to improve self-sufficiency and a truck to get surplus produce to market. In 2008 Rock of Joy began to support the school in Antioch in the suburbs of Kampala. Latterly, the Trust has extended help to a third school in Lunguja. Fred Ssendi and Stephen Sonko, the inspirational directors, who are in charge of a total of 850 children aged from 4 to 14 at Masaka and Antioch, explained how important the financial help through the Rock of Joy Trust has been. “Our children are very, very poor,” he said. “They rely on us for so much, not just education, but also for food, clothing and medical help. Generous donations have enabled us to provide some children with breakfast and this has assisted their educational development and improved health to such an extent that we have been able to field sports teams for the first time. It is wonderful to look round a school like Birkenhead. This is really inspiring and something we can aim for long into the future.” Each year representatives from the Rock of Joy Trust go out to the schools in Uganda for three weeks, one year it will be an adult group, the next a youth group. Next summer Edward Sherrard and Thomas Gibbs will go was part of the youth group team. In the meantime they will have to raise £1300 each to get themselves there. Edward has already started by running a half marathon. Money raised by the Trust goes directly to the schools and related projects. Whilst out there the group will stay with local families and, during the day, get involved in practical work such as helping on the farm, new building projects, installing new water tanks and running holiday clubs for the children.


In Focus December 2012

Page 5

In spite of less sunny weather than many of us would like, our photovoltaic panels, installed on the Sports Hall roof in March last year continue to generate electricity. At the end of October our cumulative generation passed 12,000kWh. The financial benefit to the School from this generation is around £4000 and, in addition, our green generation has avoided 6 tonne of CO2 emission. Our panels should keep generating for another 20 years, amply repaying the initial investment of around £30,000 by the Foundation Trust. C Button, Bursar

Birkenhead School’s a capella group BarLine were on Radio Merseyside recently singing ‘Haul Away Joe’, a sea shanty arranged by Marco Galvani, who sings tenor in the group. Gerry Smyth of Liverpool John Moores University was doing a project on sea shanties and songs from the Merseyside BarLine’s Musical Director is Deputy Head, area. He had heard BarLine Mr Barlow. The group consists of: at a performance they gave at Back row l to r: Jack Granby, Tom Jarvis, Chris Morris Melrose Hall, Hoylake, and Front row l to r: Matthew Rogers, Marco asked them to sing one of the Galvani, Oscar Ratnaike, Jamie Russell songs for the album he was producing. They used the School Chapel to do the recording which was broadcast on Radio Merseyside at the end of September. In an interview, after the song was played over the airwaves, Gerry Smyth commented on the very good interpretation of the song by BarLine and enthused about the wonderful acoustics of the Chapel, its beautiful interior and church furniture and how the far-off sounds of children in the playground during the recording had given the song added atmosphere and texture.

Congratulations to Louise and Rob AlfordSwift on the safe arrival of a healthy baby daughter. Isabella was born on 4 October 2012, weighing in at 8lb 2oz. We wish them all well. A bit early to tell perhaps whether she will follow in mum’s footsteps onto the sports field.

On 7 July 2012 Claire Bennett, a Year 1 teacher in Prep, became Mrs Claire Pye when she married David Pye at a ceremony at St Hi la r y’s Ch ur c h, Wallasey. The reception was held in a marquee on the hill at Church Farm, Thurstaston. Congratulations to Claire and David; we wish both a long and happy life together.


In Focus December 2012

Mrs Annabelle Hendry has just joined the Prep as a Year 2 teacher. Already she feels she is settling into the School well. Mrs Hendry is a local girl, having attended Birkenhead High School, now Birkenhead High School Academy, where, she remembers, her favourite lesson was Maths. She went on to the University of Leeds and studied Environmental Science for three years. Afterwards, she took a PGCE in Primary Education at Brunel University, Twickenham. Even when she was a child, Mrs Hendry knew she wanted to teach but, before she she came to work at Birkenhead School, she stayed at home looking after her two young boys Max and Theo. Now they have started in the Prep Max is in Year 2 and Theo is in Reception - Mrs Hendry is able to take up her career again. Her favourite holiday so far was in Menorca but she would like would to visit the Seychelles. When asked what her favourite pastime was, Mrs. Hendry answered ‘going out for meals’, adding that her favourite meal is Chinese. Mrs Hendry also enjoys films and reading books. ‘The Firm’ is both her favourite film and her favourite book. As everyone probably knows, her husband, Mr Hendry, also teaches at Birkenhead.

Miss Ailsa Dunn teaches Physics and is also taking charge of the 2nd Senior netball team. She thinks that Birkenhead School is a lovely place with a very pleasant campus and that both pupils and staff are friendly and helpful. Born in Scotland, she grew up on a farm, but she was interested in Design and Technology and initially wanted to become a cabinet maker. However, she decided eventually that she preferred Geophysics, which she went on to study at Liverpool University. Her favourite topic is Particle Physics and her least favourite is Electricity. She believes that Isaac Newton made a much greater contribution to Physics than Albert Einstein, describing the former as a genius and the latter as a dreamer who came up with one or two good ideas. Einstein also had a wife who was excellent at maths. After leaving university she worked as a geophysical engineer, spending much of her time down manholes in

Page 6 London whilst under contract to BT. Some notable events in her life include helping to build a school in Tanzania in the summer of 2000 and driving around the Fuji Speedway racing circuit when it was being surveyed, prior to its reappearance on the Formula One calendar in 2007. She enjoys a wide variety of food, but has a particular fondness for ice cream. She played the violin as a child and took it up again two years ago. She has also performed in plays and pantomimes. Her partner, whom she will marry next summer, swims for the Isle of Man and has competed in the last three Commonwealth Games. This is somewhat ironic given that she is scared of water! She also likes hill walking and running, and has competed in the Great North Run, although she prefers 5km and 10 km events to long distance runs. Finally, when asked which one out of an unstoppable force and an immovable object would eventually come out on top, she suggested that, as long as the location of the object was taken as a reference point, the immovable object would emerge victorious because it would remain still no matter how large the force which was applied to it! Jonathan Welsh, Publicity Unit

Mr Tom Smith

is the latest addition to Little School. The story of his childhood is nothing if not intriguing. At the time of his birth, his family lived in Holland. However, he managed to be born in Germany! They all moved to Hampshire just before Mr Smith was one-year old and lived there until they moved to Cyprus when he was seven. There they lived for 3 years before moving to Anglesey where he remained until he left for university. At school his favourite subject was drama, and he was torn between becoming a journalist or a teacher. However, his careers advisor strongly recommended taking the teaching path. He was persuaded because he admired many of his teachers at primary school. Conversely, later in his school career, some less inspiring teachers drove him to want to prove that teachers can be fun as well as respected. Mr Smith’s hobbies include reading, swimming and long bicycle journeys. Some of his favourite books include Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. He and his family aren’t huge movie fans, but he thoroughly enjoyed the recent Batman films when he saw them on the big screen at the cinema. His favourite dish of all time is steak and chips and he admits he has a soft spot for traditional British fare. He says that the best thing about his job is definitely working with children because they bring so much variety, commenting that “You never get two days the same”. When asked if he finds it stressful, he replied that he certainly didn’t, though it could be “hectic and mad” but usually “full of fun and hugely enjoyable”. Jordan Hart Yr 11


In Focus December 2012

Page 7 What do you hope for the future?

This time round the Inspecting Officer was Group Captain Ian Tolfts, RAF, Head of Recruiting, RAF Cranwell. It was a great day. Mindful of the weather, which had been so wet that pitches were flooded and rugby postponed, we relocated all activities to the comparative shelter of the Chetwynd TA Centre. So out went Archery, Tree Climbing and Orienteering. Ever flexible, the CCF flexed to offer a wide range of activities from shooting to dingy rigging, from cam and concealment to camp cooking, and rounded it all off with a parade at which Gp Capt Tolfts delivered promotions, and awards, including Bisley 2012 badges, Leadership Course Awards, Climbing Awards and Marksmanship Badges. He then spoke to the Contingent in an upbeat and encouraging manner, praising the enthusiasm, commitment and skill he had seen displayed. His conclusion was favourable; we are a small contingent of high-quality cadets led by committed and experienced staff. And so say all of us! Wing Commander Neil Frowe RAFVR(T)

An interview with Lance Corporal John Warburton When did you start in the CCF and what part of it are you involved in? I first heard about CCF at the end of Year 8, and joined just after the Easter holiday in the RAF section. Although I’d only been a member for a few months, after a term’s intensive training, I still managed to go on the annual camp at RAF Wittering, which at the time was home to the RAF’s Harrier Jump Jets. Now, after four years in the CCF, I am one of the most senior cadets, along with L/Cpl Wynne and L/Cpl Pearson, and we are now beginning to teach the next generation of cadets. Why do you enjoy it? I love CCF and it’s actually one of the biggest things in my life at the moment. For me, my favourite times are on camps, such as the Leadership Course I went on at Frimley CTC in July. There you get to put into practice all the training you’ve learnt during the weekly sessions at School. These include full mock battles with a full 24-man platoon, reccies (Reconnaissance The act of scouting or exploring to gain information), night ambushes, and clearing a fortified enemy position. Another thing I am really enjoying, now I am a senior cadet, is the adventure training I am allowed to go on. I have already been on a Rock Climbing course with the CCF, and I am hoping to go on another next summer as well as a scuba diving course. The best part of this is that it is all heavily subsidised by the MOD; you hardly pay a penny! What did the inspection involve & how did you feel it went? During the inspection we performed a wide variety of activities, which we has practised in the weeks leading up to the inspection. These included Command Tasks, essentially puzzles designed to improve thinking, leadership qualities, and teamwork through practical problem solving; Radio Signals which look at Communication in the Military; shooting the .22 rifle on the shooting range at the TA centre on Bidston Road. I think it fair to say that the inspection went well because, although we are a small contingent, we are dedicated and enthusiastic, which ultimately are two of the most important attributes in the CCF. Although we haven’t received the results back yet, I am pretty certain our CCF is here to stay.

Personally, I am seriously considering a career in the Forces, perhaps as an Officer in the Parachute Regiment, or joining the Royal Marines with the possibility of going on to join the SAS, or maybe as an Intelligence Officer in MI6 or the Regular Army. Having said that, I am also exploring a wide variety of other options, and in the meantime hope to join the UOTC while at University. Rebecca Davies, Publicity Unit

You’ve come home from School, you’ve completed a gruelling hour or two of homework and finally you have some time to relax, so reading ‘The Art of Strategy’ might not be the best bet. Rather than relaxing you, this book will make you think. But, contrary to what you might at first believe, this is a very good thing. This book promises, as it states proudly on the inside cover, to give you ‘winning strategies in business and in the game of life’. And this is very attractive, something that gives the book appeal to a wide audience and not just to people with a particular interest in business. It is about an economic concept called Game Theory, about how to succeed when in competition with others. There are many intricacies to Game Theory and the book does a brilliant job of explaining them. The authors, Avinish Dixit and Barry Nalfruff, describe two types of interaction to look out for when you employ game theory and strategy, sequential and simultaneous. Sequential is where you take turns, and simultaneous is when both players act at the same time. It explains how to act in both instances in a very simple way and even gives you excellent and often funny examples. This is a major strength of the book; it not only gives you the theory, but practical situations where it might be useful, making it also applicable to everyday life. Just imagine that you want someone to do something they may not be inclined to do and this book will teach you how to persuade or incentivise them to do it. For example, apply it to try to get your friend to willingly buy you something from the vending machine! The book gives many detailed examples about strategy and how it can be applied in many different situations. To complement these examples, it also gives you ‘trips to the gym’ which are questions to test how well you’ve learnt the new strategies! This is a real bonus because it does not only give you an explanation of Game Theory but makes sure you really understand it well enough to make choices based on it. The only problem is that sometimes I feel the examples are too numerous and you feel the explanation is becoming repetitive and laboured. Another problem is that a few examples use complicated maths, although you can easily skip these and still understand the theory, as suggested in the book. These are small gripes though. As I said, this book will make you think, but it feels so satisfying when you do understand it that you’ll be glad you made the effort! Harry McGee, U6th


In Focus December 2012

Photo l to r: Olivia Wimpenny, Lower Sixth, and Charlotte Lytollis, Upper Sixth, in their England kit. Charlotte wears the medal awarded to each member of the winning European Championship squad . Olivia Wimpenny and Charlotte Lytollis were picked for the elite squad which helped take England’s ladies’ lacrosse team to victory in the European championships held in Amsterdam at the end of June. It was a double victory for England at the tournament, which is held every four years, because both the women’s and the men’s team were victorious. Among the youngest members of the national senior team, Olivia and Charlotte have played lacrosse together for years, first as members of Wirral Lacrosse Club and then at County and North of England level before being selected to represent England. As their PE teacher, Miss Gilbride, observed: “It’s extraordinary to have such talented lacrosse players living so close together and going to the same school. They are both incredible players and we are very lucky to have them on the BS team.” Olivia, who is a midfield attack in the England squad and Charlotte, a midfield defence, brought back gold medals from the European championships in Amsterdam. Not able to rest on their laurels, they had to practise hard for the Stars and Stripes Tournament held at Stanford University in Paolo Alto, California, at which the Australian and Canadian national teams competed, as well as Stanford University and Rikkyo University, Japan. The England team beat Canada but lost narrowly to Australia, despite leading 6-3 in the first half. Both girls, who also play netball, spend most of their spare time honing their lacrosse skills. Being part of the national team means fortnightly trips to Guildford to work with other squad members, as well as attending regular regional practice sessions. Both Olivia and Charlotte agree they don’t have much time for themselves but it has made them more efficient at fitting in everything else around their lacrosse commitments. LATE NEWS: Congratulations to Andrew Sherman, Year 11, who recently auditioned for a place on the National Children’s Wind Orchestra playing the cornet. He has just heard he was successful and will be joining the Orchestra in 2013.

Page 8

When I first stepped onto the bus that morning, my mind was full of excitement, but also some apprehension and nervousness. The journey was a blur! First, we travelled through the bustling towns of Wirral and negotiated the rush hour traffic. Then, just over the border into Wales, we were greeted by lush green fields and woodlands with pines 20m tall! On our arrival, we were greeted by our instructor, Charlie. We were shown around the centre to get to know all the facilities. Our dormitory was at the front of the building with only one bathroom to share between the 9 of us! We quickly changed for the high ropes, an activity I was really looking forward to. The first part of the high ropes course was the zip wire. This was great fun and gave us a good laugh. I also enjoyed the wall, an activity that involved using teamwork to scale a 10foot wall. Everyone on our team got to the top! In the evening of the first day, we had an art class. I learnt a new technique called Batik. We had to design a warrior mask.

Bushcraft Using a marker we sketched out our idea and using hot wax and a special ‘tjanting’ tool (from Indonesia), we traced over the marker. Finally, we added colour and detail with ink. That night when we all went to bed, we were determined to do an ‘all nighter’! None of us managed it! On the first full day, I felt better after a sausage and bacon sandwich. After that, we set off for gorge walking which involved climbing up a river, getting wet and pretty tired! It was good fun. We finished the day with drama which was different from anything I had done before. On the last day, we took part in bushcraft, where we built a shelter out of a plastic sheet and ropes. The object was to create a shelter out of the wind and away from the smoke from the fire. Ours was voted the best shelter because it was the strongest and gave the most protection. Also in bushcraft, we toasted marshmallows over a fire we had made ourselves. I think over the three days I learned to appreciate the value of teamwork, as well as building my confidence and determination. I got to know the students in my Year and the staff better. I will remember Mr Turner laughing at us when we were playing rugby and being dunk-tackled by the Year 8s and Ronald's funny jokes in our dormitory! Ethan Carley, Year 7


In Focus December 2012

On 12 September 2012, Years 7-10 went on an outdoor pursuits trip to the Conway Centre in North Wales. The aim of this annual trip every year is to socialise and learn more about the people in your year, and try out new challenging activities. On the way there, I was full of mixed emotions because a lot of things were going through my mind. I was feeling excited about the trip in general, thrilled to be spending time

Above: Walking the planks. Below: Charlotte on the left advises

out of School with my fellow pupils, enthusiastic about trying out new things but nervous when I thought about the unknown tasks that lay ahead, and then feeling quietly optimistic about my own chances of doing well. As I gazed out of the window, I noticed how breath-taking and picturesque the Welsh scenery was around us. It was just astonishingly green with rolling hillsides. We arrived at the centre after what seemed a short journey and we were all eager to commence the afternoon activities. However, first we had lunch and then we were allocated our rooms where we unpacked our belongings. Eventually, we all assembled in the castle courtyard and were split into groups according to what activity we were to

Page 9 undertake that afternoon. It was basically a competition between all the groups to complete a variety of physical and mental activities that were both fun and challenging. After dinner, Ms Smeaton read out the two lists for the evening’s activities. There was Street Dance or Mask Making. I was chosen to do mask making and the theme was to create a mask that was scary - for example, a goblin, ghost or fantasy face mask. Lights out was at 9:45 pm. Next morning after breakfast, we quickly got ready for our full day’s activities. I was signed up for scrambling - a new challenge for me, never having tried it before. My group got on the minibus and drove to a local mountain called Tryfan. As we approached the mountain, the clouds hung low and covered the peak. The terrain was uneven and very steep but I pushed on and inhaled the fresh air as I scrambled upward. The scenery was phenomenal and, from this vantage point, nothing like I’ve seen before. After a few hours of walking, we stopped to have lunch by a lake and to take a rest before continuing to the top of Tryfan. About 2 hours later, we finally reached the summit. It was unbelievably windy up there and I was nearly knocked off my feet several times. However, there was a wall which we climbed over and huddled behind to protecti us from the elements. It felt such an achievement to have scrambled to 3,010 ft. above sea level. Then slowly and steadily we made our way back down to the minibus. I had had the most amazing day and was glad to have had the opportunity to climb a Welsh mountain. That evening after dinner, we swopped activities and I did the street-dancing. Before going home the next day, our last activity was raft building. The whole of Year 8 travelled down together to the Menai Straits where we were given only 45 minutes to produce the rafts. Thankfully, everyone finished the task within the allotted time. Next we had to test the rafts’ seaworthiness and have a race to establish which team won overall. As soon as our raft went into the water, it fell apart so unsurprisingly my group came last. We were not happy but accepted it was just a bit of fun. Over the two days I had the most amazing time and it opened my eyes to new activities that I might consider taking up as hobbies. I would like to thank the teachers because, without them giving up their time, the trip couldn’t have taken place. It has also helped me get to know the rest of the pupils in my year better. I had a really good time and I hope to have lots more opportunities to participate in other exciting trips. Charlotte Cullen, Year 8 Raft disaster?


In Focus December 2012

Page 10

Hayden Collins in 1B took part in the Wirral Festival for Speech and Drama earlier this year. He had to remember a poem and recite it with expression and meaning. He did so well that he came 1st out of 15 children. Hayden was delighted to be presented with the trophy in the photograph above. We are all very proud of Hayden and his achievement! Well done! Mrs Pye, Year 1 Class Teacher Above l to r: Sam and Daniel wearing their silver and Merseyside Road Relay medals. Right: After the Wirral Athletic Club Wirral Schools Championships held at Arrowe Park - it was quite a mud bath!

Sam Cross, Year 7, and Daniel Evans, Year 8, have performed well representing the School in cross-country events in the region. They ran in the first Merseyside Schools League cross-country of the season at the beginning of October, competing against schools from across the county. Incredibly, both came 3rd in their races, neither wanting to be outdone by the other! Representing BS in the Wirral Schools Championships, they went one better and both won silver medals, Daniel in the Year 8 race and Sam in the Year 7 race, where he narrowly missed the gold which came down to a sprint finish. In the Wirral Schools trials both came fourth in their respective races, qualifying for the Wirral Schools team. Daniel ran a great race, competing against older boys. He came through the field on the second lap and was a whisker away from the 3rd spot! It is amazing that, thus far, the boys have achieved the same results in the same races, albeit for different age groups. They train at the Oval with Wirral Athletic Club where they are in the U13s section. The Club has three teams which compete in the Manchester League. Sam and Daniel say their biggest rivals are the Liverpool Harriers but that the latter haven’t beaten them now for 3 seasons. Sam is too young yet to compete, though he often runs alongside, in the multi-terrain races which, as the name suggests, are 4 races run over different types of terrain. In these, Daniel averages fifth. In the Schools crosscountry races, where they compete in their year group, Year 8s run 2km races and Year 7, 1.5km. Both will be representing Wirral after Christmas.

Training at McAllester Field

There have been mixed fortunes for our Junior rugby teams this half term. The U13s and U15s have both struggled: the former against much larger and more powerful opponents, whilst the latter have been injury hit since the start of the season, with more than a third of the team out with long-term injuries. On the other hand, the U14s and U12s have excelled. The U12s are unbeaten against domestic opponents, with victories against Liverpool College, Hutton Grammar School, St Anselm’s College, Cheadle Hulme and Rydal Penrhos Schools. Their only defeat, a narrow 10-7 loss, was at the hands of St Gerard’s School from Ireland. The U14s have already recorded six wins from their seven fixtures, their best performance being a convincing victory against Hutton Grammar School, a team they lost to last season. R Lytollis, Head of Games


In Focus December 2012

Page 11

Sam Cross in Year 7 decided to enter the Wilfred Owen Children’s poetry writing competition run by the Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead. The theme was "My Pet" and so Sam wrote a poem about his dog Jess. Sam’s poem (see below) won in his age group and he was presented with a special edition of Michael Morpurgo’s book ‘War Horse’. Sam also features on p10.

People say that when you get old Your face gets all wrinkly or so I am told But I have a friend who is younger than me And when people see her they tend to flee. Her wrinkles stretch from ear to ear Eye’s black and staring, they will fill you with fear. Her nose is big and black as coal Sometimes it even gets stuck in her bowl. She likes to sleep and snore and grunt Her claws worn down all jagged and blunt. She likes to trot on grassy banks. When given treats you can almost hear her say thanks. You may be wondering what she might be All soft and wrinkly even a bit cuddly. I would like to introduce you if I may To my best friend, Jess, my Shar Pei.

P.S. During WWI, many animals shared the dangers of the trenches being battalion mascots or pets: mules, goats, foxes, rabbits, dogs, cats, squirrels and magpies amongst them.

Sartorial elegance - Before the EYP effect. On 13 September, a group of ten budding politicians made the short journey to Liverpool Hope University to participate in the National Session of the European Youth Parliament. We didn’t really know what to expect over the three days of the competition. Would it be taken deadly seriously? Would everyone be incredibly hostile with each other? We were relieved to discover that everyone seemed to be there to have fun, possibly interspersed with a debate or two. Each school was tasked with doing a twenty-second presentation about the region they come from. We decided to sing a Beatles classic ‘Yellow Submarine’ - it most definitely stole the show. The following days were filled with discussion, hard work and fun. It was also a very good opportunity to meet other people from other schools and to learn fom the experiences of former EYP delegates, inlucding the President of the Session, Pauline Chetail – who is a political science graduate and has specialised in the European Union. We may not have necessarily been as well-prepared as other groups but our humour definitely impressed the jury. I quote “You guys really lightened the mood with your excellent humour ”. Two aims from the outset were to ‘have a laugh’ and ‘win the fancy dress’ - we excelled in both. Whilst we were disappointed not to be selected to progress to the International Session, it can definitely be said that we all thoroughly enjoyed the event which had a profound effect on us, especially our fashion sense. People warned us that we would experience Post EYP Depression (PED) but we all laughed it off. However, once we were back in School, leaving behind the EYP competition and all the people we had met there, we all agreed that PED had hit us quite hard. Thank you to Mr. Hopkins who supported us before and during the event, whilst also providing us with a shoulder to cry on and emotional advice to alleviate our PED afterwards. The team consisted of: Nick Gill, Louis McGrath, Christopher Morris, Matthew Rogers, Jamie Russell, Rohith Srinivasan, Harry Sturgess, Jack Walker, Alex Watkins, Ashley Williams. Chris Morris, U6th Left: Post - EYP winning ways in Bavarian fancy dress


In Focus December 2012

Page 12

Congratulations to Jake Fisher in 1W who is doing very well in Under 8 beginners’ dressage events. To date, he has had four wins, three 2nds, one 3rd and one 4th. The photo shows Jake on his horse Bailey Boy. C Winn, Yr 1 Senior Teacher

Leader of 20th Birkenhead Scout Troup, Mr Britton, with representatives from the Beavers in front of the beautiful wall hanging.

20TH BIRKENHEAD (SCHOOL) SCOUT GROUP 2012 The Faith Partnership Award is a whole Group and Leader Award and is about encouraging young people to develop an understanding of their own or another faith community. It is designed to bring a group together to promote a greater understanding of the life, history or practices of a faith community in your local community. As Beavers we make a promise – To be kind and helpful and to love God. The Cub promise has three component parts – Duty to self, duty to others and duty to God. Scouts and Leaders make the same promise but add the phrase ‘On my honour’ to the beginning and replace ‘Cub Scout Law’ with ‘Scout Law’ at the end. The Promise. I promise that I will do my best To do my duty to God And to the Queen To help other people And to keep the Cub Scout Law. This year we have celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and hosted the Olympics and the Paralympics. Beavers, Cubs and Scouts have become much more aware of the Servicemen and Women and the sacrifice they make to serve our Queen and Country. They have seen the bravery of many injured people rebuilding their lives and representing the country through sport. With this in mind, we decided to make our own tribute to the service personal whose lives have been lost to protect and serve others. The hanging we have made is mounted on black cloth to remind us of the dark days of the World Wars. It is mounted on an old flag pole belonging to our cub pack and is hung by cord from our scout flag. The five loops through which the pole is threaded

represent the five sections in Scouting, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and Leaders. The three crosses remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus and represent the three Services, the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force. The poppies traditionally represent those who have fallen in battle. The centre of the large cross has a poppy with a pin badge of the Navy. The other two carry a pin badge of the Cheshire Regiment of the Army and a uniform button from the RAF. Each member of the Scout Group in School has made a poppy from red ribbon and in the centre we have sewn blazer buttons. We thought about each of the names on the boards in Chapel belonging to former pupils of School who once wore blazers and black and red uniforms as today. ‘SCOUTING REMEMBERS’ – We would all pray for a United World without War or Conflict. Mrs Yvonne Hazlehurst, Akela – Cubs.

Congratulations to the following who have been chosen to play Lacrosse for Cheshire: Annabel Saverimutto - (left in main photo) U18A, U15A, plus invitation to trial for the North of England Lucy Rogers - (right in main p h o t o) U 1 8 A U 1 5 A , p l u s invitation to trial for the North of England

India Wild - U18B, U15A Sophie Hatherly -U15A Bella Wild - U15B


In Focus December 2012

On 6 July 2012 our World Challenge team, consisting of fifteen students and three adult leaders, headed off to Mongolia on a month -long expedition. A key part of the World Challenge expeditions is that the students organise almost e v e r y t h i n g themselves. This meant that each day we would have different roles, which we decided upon before the trip. The roles consisted of a team leader, an assistant leader, two Sarah Bibby helping 4-year old orphan Pierre-Martin to blow up a people in charge of Union Jack beach ball. food, two people in c h a r g e o f accommodation and two people in charge of transport. This meant that we had complete control over something as apparently trivial as what we ate for breakfast to something much more important such as arranging transport across country to the point where we began our trek. We also had two people in charge of the budget, which was over $8,000, but, unlike the other roles this was not handed on. Jack Hulmes and Chris Morris controlled the budget for the whole

Page 13

Curtis Wright and 5-year old Marie-Pascale were inseparable.

during our time in the country. World Challenge trips consist of four main sections: first acclimatisation, then the project, thirdly the trek and finally rest and relaxation. However, we did not have any time to acclimatise on our trip because there was so much to do! Our project took place at the Faternité of Notre Dame Orphanage in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The orphanage was run by French nuns, so all twenty two of the orphans spoke fluent French as well as Mongolian, and had two names, one French the other Mongolian. This gave some of us an opportunity to show off our GCSE French!

Group Photo: children and World Challenge volunteers.

Tom Jarvis learns how to play Shagai, a traditional Mongolian game played using sheeps’ ankle bones. Tom is also wearing 10year old Hubert’s hat and eye-patch.

month. This became even more complicated than usual when we changed our money into Mongolian Tögrög! With 2,000 Tögrög to the pound and the largest note worth 10,000 Tögrög. it was difficult to fit the wads of notes into our money belts! Another particularly challenging part of the trip was the language barrier. Despite trying to learn a few phrases of Mongolian before we left, on arrival we soon found our pronunciation was way off! No one spoke English, but fortunately we met our translator, Azaa, a Mongolian student, on our first day in Ulaanbaatar who stayed with us

We were the first World Challenge group to help out at the orphanage, so we were very keen to give a good impression. Whilst on the project, we did various manual tasks including: putting up a blackboard and shelves in the kitchen, making an English alphabet for the wall of the classroom, putting up a basketball hoop, taking down a greenhouse and replanting all the plants and making a compost heap. The children also kept us busy playing games and helping us to find out more about the orphanage. All the children there had been abandoned by their parents and had very moving stories to tell. One boy was found in the snow as a baby and taken to the orphanage. In Mongolia, family is everything. Without a family, for example, they cannot attend school and receive an education. The children arrive as babies and are cared for and educated by the Sisters until they leave in their late teens to jobs that are arranged through local contacts. Despite the brilliant job which the nuns do, they are faced with a lot of problems from the Mongolian government. The fact that it is a Christian-run organisation has caused friction


In Focus December 2012

Page 14

because the government does not want the children to be brought up in the Christian faith. In the past, they have sent in officials to question all the children (including the youngest, who is four) to ask if they have seen the nuns praying. They also have to raise $4,000 each month to stay open. Unfortunately, due to the recent economic problems, a benefactor of the orphanage has had to cut the amount of money he gives by a significant amount, making even staying open now a real struggle. Working at the orphanage was, for many of us, the highlight of the trip and we hope to raise money for Faternité of Notre Dame because we feel it is such a worthy cause.

L to R: Sameer Alam, Tom Jarvis, Charlotte Lytollis and Curtis Wright model some items of traditional Mongolian dress. Curtis was given the handmade waistcoat by Buugi, one of the wranglers.

were unwell by carrying their bags and patiently taking more rest breaks. The final day’s walking took us to the enormous Darkhad Depression where our horse trek began. The horse trek was another one of the highlights of the whole trip and everyone had named their horses by the end of the first day; mine was named Bullseye. Our Mongolian Wranglers thought this was very strange as they do not name their horses. Another highlight of the trip was the Singing to keep up our spirits during the 120km 5-day hike interaction with the wranglers, our guides for the trek. They along the shores of Lake Khövsgöl - complete with Lord of made us tea and towards the end of the trek we all sat the Rings style staffs! round the same campfire, and some of the boys even wrestled with the wranglers. Needless to say, with wrestling Our next part of the expedition was the Trekking phase. We one of the national sports, our pupils were easily defeated, travelled 1000 km on dirt roads in 3 minibuses, which were apart from Chris Morris. arranged by the transport team, to the north of the country to start our treks. The trek was split into two parts, five days walking and five days horse riding. The first few days of the trek were spent walking round part of Lake Khövsgöl, a beautiful, crystal clear, but very cold lake that remains frozen until around June every year. Our first day of the trek was a real challenge! We were supposed to be walking about 25Km, but some confusion in translation meant we ended up walking 36km with 3 ill members of the team. Everyone worked very well as a team, supporting those who

Varied styles of Mongolian riding boots - L to R: Alex Williams (School leader), Curtis Wright, Jack Walker and Chris Morris.

Sameer Alam and Chris Morris sitting with two of the wranglers on the last night of our 10-day trek. The wranglers built an enormous fire and sang their traditional songs for the group .

Perhaps the biggest challenge during the trekking phase was food. The team had to be entirely self-sufficient in terms of camping, water and food preparation. Half way through the trek, we bought a sheep to give us some much needed protein. The meals varied greatly in their success, with perhaps the most memorable being the night we tried to cook 7 kilos of rice in a normal sized pan. The end result was a soup made from the sauce and the inedible rice was buried in a field! After 6 days on bumpy dirt roads, we were all looking forward to travelling on an overnight train along part of


In Focus December 2012 Trans-Mongolian railway. The first class luxury of bunk beds and cabins was another highlight. The final phase of the expedition was rest and relaxation, but there wasn’t really much resting as there was so little time and so much to see! At the very beginning of the trip we spent two days in Beijing - our flight was from Heathrow to Beijing as you cannot fly directly to Mongolia from the UK. We visited the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. It was amazing; the only problem was that it was so big that we didn’t have enough time to see it all and the oppressive Beijing heat and smog made walking around a lot slower than normal. In Mongolia we had two days for rest and relaxation but this time we went round in small groups. We went to museums and monasteries, including the Choijin Lama Temple Museum which is the complete opposite of what you would think a temple would be like. It was quite creepy as opposed to calm and serene. We spent a lot of time in souvenir shops as there were so many unusual things you could buy. Curtis Wright tried on some Mongolian armour and wanted to buy it until he realised it was about a million tögrög, which is about five

Page 15

In action: the 5-day horse trek across the Mongolian prairie.

hundred pounds. At the very end of the trip when we were back in Beijing we booked a day tour with a man called Jeff. We visited the Ming Tombs, the Jade factory where we learnt how to tell the difference between real Jade and fake Jade, and the Great Wall of China. However, due to the fact that we had so much to do in one day we cheated and instead of walking up we took the cable car. Finally we went to a place called Dr Tea where we learnt about and tasted different types of tea; my favourite was the Jasmine tea. The trip was the most amazing thing I have ever done and I really recommend that anyone who has to opportunity to go on a World Challenge or similar expedition should take it. It is one of the most rewarding things you could ever do and being able to experience at such close quarters such a different country and culture is incredible. Sarah Bibby and Jonathan Welsh, U6

The group on the 31st and final day at Baddaling on the Great Wall of China.


In Focus December 2012

Page 16

Mr Hayward makes the audience sit up as he demonstrates different methods of combustion.

The team L to R: Mrs Linda Garner, Science Technician, Mr Hayward, Head of Science, and Sixth Formers Sarah Bibby, Matthew Dixon, Sameer Alam, Harry Smethurst (and Oliver Sait not in photo).

Members of our Science in the Community group, part of Birkenhead School’s Beyond the Curriculum activities, recently opened the series of lectures given on Science Day, part of the Heswall Arts Festival sponsored by U3A and organised by the Rotary Clubs of West Wirral and Mid Wirral. The science lectures included talks by fellow scientists on topics such as the evolution of stars and the science of seeing. BS’s theme was ‘Fun with Combustion’ and, as there have been no reports of any catastrophes in the Heswall area, it is safe to assume our scientists had everything under control! Demonstrations included exploding hydrogen balloons, methane rockets, flame tests, redox reactions, whoosh bottles and gun cotton - all showing how complete and incomplete combustion occurs using various oxidising agents. U3A (University of the Third Age) brought in an older audience than usual but they were as entertained and informed as the younger audiences our Science in the Community demonstrations are usually aimed at. Representatives from schools and youth groups in the audience were so impressed that, following their presentation, Science in the Community were asked to add Avalon Year 5s and a large scout group from Irby to their outreach programme.

Fun with the Bernoulli Effect: This is one of the principles in helping airplanes to fly. The shape of an airplane wing is such that air flowing over the top travels faster than the air flowing under the wing, so there is less pressure on top than the bottom, resulting in lift! Simple!

And even Cameron Diaz got in on the act! The slide shows an unbalanced equation. The fun was to balance the equation for hydrogen peroxide - a bleaching agent used in toothpaste and hair bleach. Ms Diaz seemed to be in need of a bottle.


In Focus December 2012

It was a hot and sunny afternoon on 8 October when Birkenhead School played Liverpool College in a 7 a-side netball match. Liverpool College started with the first centre pass but we managed to intercept the ball before they could get into their goal third and within seconds (apart from a few pull-ups for footwork and marking), Abi started us off with a clean goal making it 1-0. Soon we took our first centre pass with Jess passing to Abi, who got herself in the right position to pass then shoot. It took one bounce off the ring and then she took the time to shoot again, making it 2-0. After the first ten minutes, Mrs Sewell gave us a confidence-boosting chat and Ellie and I swapped positions. Liverpool College started with the ball again but Maddie, as Wing Defence, intercepted the ball and passed to Jess who in turn passed to me. I got myself into a good and comfortable position to shoot and made it 3-0. Jess threw a brilliant shot to Abi who eventually got herself in the position to shoot… again, making it 4-0! When we had our next team talk, we knew that Liverpool College would have to score more than 4 goals to even get close to beating us! In the last ten minutes, Liverpool College looked like they were stepping up their game but it wasn’t enough to stop us from getting another goal. I scored, making it 5-0. We could see that Liverpool College were trying their hardest to beat us but it didn’t work and the final score was 5-0! After the match was over, we said the hip-hip hoorays and chose their best player who was their Goal Defender. Their team chose Lucy, our Goal Keeper, as our best player. We hope we get to play them again. Our positions were Abi Goal Attack, Jaime Goal Defence, Maddie/Elizabeth Wing Defence, Molly Wing Attack, Ellie Goal Shooter, Jess Centre and Lucy Goal Keeper. Molly Rogerson-Bevan, 6HS

In the Summer holidays Ian Loch (top right) and Leo Westbrook (bottom right) attended courses run by the Smallpeice Trust. Ian learnt something about the way railway technologies come together to create safe and efficient transport systems. Held at the University of Birmingham over four days, the 37 students explored a range of subjects, including aerodynamics, crashworthiness, signalling, train control and wheel rail adhesion. The students had to work in teams to design and built 1:30 scale crash proof vehicles and an automatic train control system for metro type operation which was capable of maintaining a safe distance between trains and stopping accurately to operate platform screen doors. The social programme included bowling, a film night and formal dinner. Leo went to Lancaster University for a similar experience but he spent his 4 days learning about some of the key challenges facing the Nuclear Industry. The 59 students on the Nuclear Engineering course were challenged to find ways to move spent nuclear waste from a storage facility safely. It is hoped that their experiences will make them consider careers in engineering, and even in the

Page 17

En route with the torch are Oscar, Alexander and dad

This summer Oscar Ratnaike’s brother, Alexander, who is 19 and suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and cortical blindness was chosen to carry the Paralympics Torch. Alex was nominated by Claire House, where he sometimes goes for holidays, to carry the torch in a relay held in Ellesmere Port at the end of August. This was one of only 36 relays held throughout the entire country and the successful bid to hold it was made by Cheshire West College. Alex’s family recall what a marvellous experience the day was when over 100 friends and family went along to support Alex. Alex was Number 21 in the relay and when he got to hold the miner’s lamp style torch, the shouts and cheers had all the Ratnaike supporters in tears. Oscar, now in U6th, proudly held his brother’s hand to support the lantern whilst Dad, Dr Ratnaike, pushed Alex’s wheelchair. The Ratnaikes have bought a torch and want to use it to raise money for Claire House. As Mrs Ratnaike said, ‘It was a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity and a day filled with happiness that we will always remember. And, given the massive success of the Paralympics, we feel Great Britain has pushed these games to a level that can only get better. We were very proud to have a part in it.’ p.s. Shortly before the relay Oscar got a distinction in his LAMDA Grade 7 examination. BS congratulates both Ratnaike brothers.

The Ratnaike Family


In Focus December 2012

It was 12 September when Year 7 went to the Conway centre, Anglesey. Truthfully I was a bit nervous about what lay ahead as I gave my extremely heavy bag to the driver. One hour later the Centre was in view. I could just see a grey building with green grass at the front. With the rain hammering down, we trooped into our common room in a newer building called ‘Gogarth’. I was starving and happily ate a ham sandwich, kit-kat and apple. Then we settled into our dorm where I was disappointed to find some people had memory foam mattresses but mine was very hard. After being put in a group with Verity and Hannah and some of the boys, we went to do bush craft, something that I had been very excited about! Before we got started we had to put on purple waterproofs and fire protectors. The weather was not much better as we headed into the woods but thankfully we were under trees! Thev first task was to make a cosy tent which the girls won easily. Then came the part I had been waiting for, we had to make a fire and roast marshmallows to make them golden brown. I was very pleased to find that the tent making competition winners got an extra marshmallow and I became the marshmallow roasting champion! That evening, after doing drama I couldn’t get to sleep and naughtily ate THREE bags of Haribos. I woke up to Verity’s alarm clock and reluctantly got ready for breakfast - a piece of toast and a lovely hot chocolate. On the way to gorge walking, I felt slightly car-sick but I was bubbling with excitement, because all the Year 8s had told us that this was the best activity. The gorge started at a pool then, as we climbed, became a waterfall which became more and more difficult to follow. Everyone fell and so did I. We all flopped on a rock to have a snack. Afterwards, we continued up the waterfalls. I was freezing cold and couldn’t feel my feet but it was an amazing feeling to get to the top and jump in a very deep pool. I jumped from both heights, even though I must admit that I was slightly scared. The leader pointed us down toward a steep slope at the end of which there was a slide into another pool! I struggled down the slope but loved the slide. Afterwards, we had to get changed in the middle of a wood. I was bitterly cold and very embarrassed! Back at the Centre, I had the best shower ever! We had chips and sausage for tea, then Art before bed. I was very tired but enjoyed the last night at Conway centre very much. Next morning, some of us tackled the ropes and zips set up in a nearby field. As I helped others down from the zip wire, I couldn’t wait for my turn. The feeling was wonderful - I set off from the wooden platform and the wind blew in my face and hair, even the sun was peeping out. However, the best had to be the rope swing, where we swung from a platform onto a suspended giant net! I had had an amazing time with many memories. even though some times things were not a piece of cake! Maya Sharma Yr 7

Page 18

It is unprecedented for TWO Old Birkonians to have made the national and global headline news at the same time AND for the best of reasons! On 22 November, Tony Hall (Lord Hall of Birkenhead), who was at BS from 1964-1969, was appointed the new Director General of the BBC in the wake of scandals threatening to engulf the Corporation. The Daily Telegraph’s feature writer Jake Wallis Simons wrote: Tony Hall: the BBC have finally got it right. Finally the BBC are doing something right. For once they have gone from the ridiculous (Tim Davie, erstwhile acting Director General) to the sublime (Tony Hall, newly appointed Director General), rather than the other way round. Tony Hall, the former Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, is an excellent choice for DG. He began his career at the BBC, rising to Director of News in 1993; this gives him the experience and integrity to sort out issues of scandalous journalistic mismanagement. Whereas Tim Davie was responsible for the controversial decision to close 6 Music – which was later reversed after a public outcry – Tony Hall successfully launched both Radio 5 Live and BBC Parliament. He also edited the 9 O'Clock News. Hall is also a member of the House of Lords as a crossbencher, which is ideal in that he is politically unaffiliated. His experience leading the Royal Opera House will give him the clout necessary for the job...Tony Hall is overall an excellent choice for Director General, and good news for those who love the BBC. He applied for the position once before, in 1999. Now it seems his time has come. Tony: don't let us down! Our other Old Birkonian is Nick Pollard (19611968) He started his career in journalism as a reporter at the Birkenhead News, and later worked for the BBC in Liverpool and London. He was executive producer at ITN for 13 years, before joining Sky News where he worked from 1996 to 2006. In 2009 he was appointed as chief executive of the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC), responsible for providing broadcasting and cinema services to British forces and their families. He was recently appointed to lead an inquiry into the BBC following allegations of sexual abuse by the late broadcaster and disc jockey Jimmy Savile. Pollard's remit is to look at why an investigation into Savile's activities by journalists on the BBC Two news programme Newsnight was dropped shortly before it was due to be transmitted. Nick came back to School with his family three years ago to


In Focus December 2012

Some of the children in Prep wearing grey to show their support for: "Wear something grey for Brain Tumour UK ". All part of Prep fund raising this term. Sarah Williams

Page 19

I was fortunate enough to be awarded a placement on a Nuffield Bursary project at Unilever Research and Development, Port Sunlight, for six weeks over the summer holiday. This involved synthesising new polymers for use in shampoo formulations. As I want to read Chemistry at university, I found working in research science laboratories for the first time a fascinating experience and a very good insight into how chemistry is applied in industry. It was also interesting to see collaboration between an international company like Unilever and a local university; some of the laboratory work was conducted at Liverpool University. After I had completed my project, I wrote a report and made a poster, then presented my research at the Nuffield Celebration evening held at the World Museum in Liverpool in October. This was a very enjoyable event in itself, particularly because it provided an opportunity to view other students’ Nuffield projects. These ranged from finding the Higgs Boson to cancer research to monitoring animal behaviour at Chester Zoo. I felt it was an immensely rewarding project and I think most non-scientists would be surprised to discover how much research and development goes into a humble everyday product such as shampoo! Jonathan Welsh

Photo above: Miss Crawford (second from right) a teacher in Prep with Prep parents at the fashion show held in the Wro Lounge, Birkenhead. Below: Year 4 take part in the big Cake Sale, which involved Years 3 –6. To date, the events and fund-raising activities have together raised the magnificent sum of £5000 for Brain Tumour UK!


In Focus December 2012

Page 20

CCF Orienteering During half term 12 cadets from Birkenhead School and Upton Hall School, all members of the Birkenhead School CCF Contingent, attended the Cadet National Orienteering Championships held at Warcop in Cumbria. The uptake for the competition meant two junior teams represented the BS Contingent at the event. As we approached the cold, icy Cumbrian landscape, we realised there was a difficult day ahead and Ready for the off - Matthew the cadets saw they would be McDonald with an Upton running over some difficult terrain, Hall cadet. made worse by a run of bad weather previously. Luckily the rain stayed off for the duration of the competition, but it was still very wet and slippery underfoot.

Finding their way L to R: Nick West and Christopher Chan, Findlay Gordon and Callum Andrews, Otto Dawes and Matthew McDonald.

Both our Junior Boys’ and Girls’ Teams performed to a high standard, especially considering the adverse conditions and the experience of some of the other teams. There were some thirty teams from all over the UK, including Northern Ireland. Everyone was delighted when Birkenhead Boys’ Junior team came first but were even more delighted when our Junior Upton Hall Girls’ team was also placed first! Congratulations to all those who took part—a fantastic achievement. Alan Joseph, BEM GCGI School staff instructor Pictured with their winners’ medals in the photo top right of the page. Clockwise from top left are: Capt Alan Joseph, Finlay Gordon, Christopher Chan, Callum Andrews, Otto Dawes, Matthew Macdonald, Nick West.

Birkenhead School observatory was used as a location by local film company Chat Noir Productions Ltd in a film made for The Lantern Project, the charity helping and supporting victims of sexual abuse. ’Unstructured Therapeutic Disclosure: treating psychosexual trauma disorder’ won the Best Social Interest Film at the Wirral International Film Festival. The awards, now in their 5th year, were held at the TA Barracks in November and had both local and Italian film makers participating. The Lantern Project will include a copy of the DVD of the film with their new book. Chat Noir were used to make the School’s prospectus DVD.

To view the film go to: http://www.chatnoirproductions.co.uk/portfolio/unstructured-therapeutic-disclosure-u-t-d/


In Focus December 2012

Harry Unsworth was put forward by Mr Hayward for the Daresbury Laboratory Schools Science Prize 2012, because of the progress he has made in the three sciences in Senior School. The prize is intended to recognize scientific attitude and achievement in Year 9 students from across the region. Each year during the summer term, schools from Warrington, Halton, Merseyside and Cheshire are invited to nominate a chosen student to receive this award. The Prize was awarded this year as part of the Laboratory’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. Daresbury is an Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (AsTec), which in turn is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The Council works with Academia, Industry, Government, partner organisations, steering groups, standards organisations and research councils to deliver best quality science worldwide. ‘On arrival at Daresbury, all the pupils were taken to a lecture room where they were welcomed and given a talk by Dr Susan Smith, Director of AsTec, herself an accelerator physicist who has made a significant contribution to Diamond Light Source, thye UK’s synchrotron science facility (electrons are accelerated to near light-speed generating brilliant beams of light from infra-red to X-rays. After that, the prizes were awarded, followed by a reception for parents and prize winners in another part of the Daresbury campus. Receiving this prize felt like a great honour. I honestly didn’t know anything about it, so it was a huge surprise, and I would like to thank Mr Hayward for putting my name forward.” Harry Unsworth, 10AJB

George Last in Year 8 has recently been to London to audition for a part in a new film about the misadventures of Paddington Bear, from the much loved children’s books by Michael Bond. He read for the part of Mr and Mrs Brown’s boisterous 9-year old son Jonathan, the family who are sent the bear from darkest Peru. At the audition, George had to read a prepared script and improvise the part of an inventor. He pretended to have invented a pencil sharpener that played ITunes whenever a pencil was sharpened. If George is successful, the part will involve him being out of School to go on location, but it won’t be all fun and acting: a tutor will be on set to make sure he doesn’t miss out on his schoolwork!

Page 21

Autumn has brought the completion of a joint project between Senior School and Prep. We would like to thank Mr Guinness and his team of students who made the set of new interactive phonic signs for our Reception playground. The team designed and constructed the 26 signs (one for each letter of the alphabet) which are childfriendly and weatherproof. The Reception children have taken delight in using the signs, enjoying the interactive feature. In the grooves of the raised letters, they can trace the shapes and the feel the difference between small and capital letters with their fingers. We would like to thank the Parents’ Association for funding and supporting this joint venture. Mrs G Mudge and Mrs J Mayers

Nicholas Morgan in Year 8 competed recently at the Stockport Metro Level Open Meet. His aim was to qualify for the British Gas North West ASA Age Group Championships in June 2013 which will be held at the Manchester Aquatic Centre above. At the Stockport Metro Meet, Nicholas qualified for the 1500m Freestyle, the 400m Freestyle and 200m Freestyle. Nicholas has already qualified to swim in the 200m Backstroke and the 200m and 400m Individual Medleys. We congratulate him on his achievements.


In Focus December 2012

Page 22

Mounted on the front bumper, this plaque shows the tour route. Cannes or Beaumaris?

Regular readers of In Focus may recall my brief article in the May edition which talked of a planned round-Britain tour in my 75-year old Wolseley. This was an initiative of the Wolseley Register, seeking to help the National Trust in its fund-raising for Nuffield Place, a recently acquired property, once the home of Lord Nuffield.

The ‘Star’ at Belton House, Lincolnshire.

In the weeks before the tour I began to wonder what I had done: 2000 miles in two weeks in a car that had done little more than 1000 miles in the last 50 years. However, this had been Lord Nuffield’s own car, presented to him by a grateful workforce at Wolseley and it was being billed as the ‘star’ of the tour: I couldn’t back-out now. We left Chester on August 3rd and had a good run south to a hotel near Henley, stopping for an hour at the Heritage Motor Museum which has a good display about Lord Nuffield, including a reconstruction of his Cowley office. The Tour started at Nuffield Place, just a few miles from Henley, the next morning, where we were waved-off by Lord Nuffield’s great, great nephew. Six cars and their crews completed the entire tour, though many others joined in for a day or two or three. In all, around 100 Wolseleys and their owners were involved but there was something special about being ‘one of the six’ who, having started on August 4th, drove back into Nuffield Place two weeks, 14 hotels and 2000 miles later! ‘Tour’ doesn’t begin to describe the experience and I am happy to go with the Headmaster’s

view that it was an odyssey! Space doesn’t permit a full account but some of the memories that will stay with me for a very long time are: Driving down steep, narrow lanes into Lyme Regis and climbing out of the other side: a real test of man and 75 year old machine! Torrential rain in Devon and South Wales: driving on roads that were more like river-beds. Driving into Beaumaris with the hood down, i n w a r m sunshine: it felt like Cannes! Driving over the bridge on the M62 which I had driven under for 40 years. The hotel straight from the pages of A g a t h a Above: the bridge over the M62 and below: driving along the M25 Christie, a t on 4 cylinders. K i n l o c h Rannoch Mile after mile of arrow-straight road with almost no traffic on the A68 in Northumberland. Driving round the M25 with an ailing car that was down to four cylinders (from six). The atmosphere of Chartwell, Churchill’s home. On the afternoon of Friday, August 17th we pulled up at the Shillingford Bridge Hotel on the banks of the Thames. It felt strange: was it really two weeks ago that we stayed here overnight and left the following morning to start the Tour? We had travelled the length and breadth of Great Britain. How many memories had we packed into those two weeks. Best of all, perhaps, were the bonds of fellowship, resulting from the sharing of the experience. The following morning Continued overleaf


In Focus December 2012 Continued from previous page

Chartwell we did the short run to Nuffield Place, formally to complete the Tour. The six cars and their crews who had set out two weeks before were all there. We had done it! I had done the last two hundred miles of the Tour on four cylinders instead of six and doing around 14mpg. Back home, with the cylinder head removed we found that we had blown the gasket between cylinders three and four. The gasket has been replaced and, for good measure, exhaust valves and guides have been replaced, too. DON 642 is running sweetly again and I would like to think that, somewhere, Lord Nuffield is smiling! CF Button, Bursar

The Presentation at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, London Deven Darshane and Oliver George were each awarded a prestigious Arkwright Engineering Scholarship during half term, at a ceremony hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Savoy Place, London. Deven and Oliver were presented with their Scholarships by Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority. The Arkwright Engineering Scholarships support young people from across the UK who have the potential to be industry’s future leaders in engineering and design. During their Sixth Form studies, Scholars receive £600 to support their technical courses and have access to a range of exciting opportunities to learn more about engineering, such

Page 23 as mentoring and company visits. The school also receives £400 per Scholar. Scholars are selected following a rigorous process comprising a detailed application form, a two-hour aptitude exam and an interview hosted at a top engineering university. Deven chose to be interviewed by C a m b r i d g e University as he recognises that their e n g i n e e r i n g departments are some of the best in the world. He was given a tour of their facilities, listened to a lecture on bridge design given by a leading professor and participated in building his own model bridge to support a weight. Oliver’s interview to ok pl ac e at Lancaster University where he had to talk about why he wants to study engineering and present his D&T project. They had a tense wait before hearing they had been awarded the Scholarships. The National Director of the A r k w r i g h t Scholarship Trust, Dr Martin Thomas commented: “This year’s assessment Photo top: Deven Darshane process w a s and below: Oliver George both on extremely tough. Any the L6th. secondary school can become affiliated to enter students, and this year we had 1103 applicants competing for just 335 scholarships. Deven and Oliver and all of our new Scholars have absolutely phenomenal potential for future careers in the engineering profession.” With such a small number of Scholarships awarded each year, the Design and Technology Department at Birkenhead School are very proud to have two Scholars in one year and look forward to watching Deven and Oliver as they pursue their engineering careers. Mr S Guinness, Head of D&T


In Focus December 2012

Inside the Globe L to R: Natalie Jones, Rebecca Davies, Amy Naylor, Arran Byers, Liam Owen and John Warburton.

London, the city that never sleeps; where the lights are bright, and, in Knightsbridge, as we discovered, where every street looks the same (paved with gold?)! In Oxton, in an early Saturday morning haze, pupils gathered from Year 10 through to U6th before setting off on a journey of discovery and enrichment to the Big Smoke. The journey itself could have been fraught with danger as we battled against rolling fog, the heavy traffic on the M6 and the approach to Heathrow Airport. Actually, the journey was not really life-threatening because we were in a safe pair of hands: Dave, our driver, steered us safely there (and back) – more from Dave later. From our hotel, we could see and hear Heathrow Airport’s second runway a scant half mile away. I must say, Mrs McGoldrick proved adept in side-stepping pupils’ questions about the proximity of it to our Premier Inn and how we were meant to sleep through the racket. I have to confess that I was more annoyed by the absence of Lenny Henry to greet me when I arrived than a potential sleepless night. Rooms checked, beds jumped on and clothes changed, we headed off into the night for dinner and a play in the heart of London. As we trundled into the capital, the legacy of the Olympics seemed to be just a few banners adorning the lampposts. What was plainer to see was the large number of people who had been protesting, still loitering with their TSU banners, and the volume of ‘Boris bikes’ in use. Crawling through Kensington, we got a real flavour of the cosmopolitan London lifestyle. After an hour in three-miles-per-hour traffic, we reached the Planet Hollywood restaurant where the movie buffs amongst us were in heaven. The walls were adorned with famous props from much loved films such as ‘Star Wars’, ‘Rocky’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and the classic ‘Love Actually’. The food was great and the ‘text-a-message’ system provided the most entertainment. Some naughty Year 10s messaged in about our two lovely escorts, Miss Mason and Mrs McGoldrick, and their comments were broadcast for all the diners to see on screens around the restaurant. I managed to put my stamp on the evening with a Rick Astley ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ request but, unfortunately, my singing was not required this time (Arran performed this at BS’s Got Talent). ‘Damned by Despair’ at the Olivier in the National Theatre was our evening entertainment, and as the coach dropped us at the great concrete building next to the Thames, there was some apprehension as to whether or not we would enjoy the play. I can tell you now that it was

Page 24 well-worth watching and, if you find yourself in London in the near future, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. It is a 1625 play by Tirso de Molina, a Spanish classic brought to life in modern language by Frank McGuinness. It tells the story of a hero and villain whose lives are led on intersecting paths, bringing about a process of role-reversal. Desperate for a sign from God to answer his self-sacrifice, Paulo, a devout hermit, is seduced by the Devil disguised as an angel into believing he will share the same fate as a ruthless Neapolitan gangster Enrico. Piqued that his goodness seems destined to go unrewarded, Paulo copies the terrible excesses of Enrico. Enrico, meanwhile, sees the error of his ways through the loving example of his dying father, and it is he who is rewarded with divine grace and ascends heavenward. After the play, we journeyed back to Heathrow and our coach driver came into his own. Dave became fully involved in a bitterly fought ‘The Knowledge’ quiz (modelled on the famous test London Cabbies have to take) with the travellers at the back of the coach. The questions were ludicrous and the scoring system was very corrupt but I have to hand to Dave the title of Quiz Master! We did all sleep soundly that night, despite Heathrow, and I think Dave slept cradling his metaphorical trophy, whilst the defeated U6th licked their wounds. Up and at it! Breakfast was followed by a commute into London where first we explored the new Globe theatre, a project initiated by the film director Sam Wanamaker and completed after his death by the Trust which he set up. We were all captivated by its grandeur and the attention to detail put into building it. After this, we moved on to the British Library, first taking in a look round St Pancras Station (a scene from Harry Potter brought to life!). The library is a fascinating place but I think it could benefit from having some ‘Where’s Wally?’ books. This was the last stop on our short city break and afterwards we filed onto the coach and headed out of the city, the monuments and buildings of London lining our route. The trip was a success and it gave me food for thought and inspiration for my half term writing assignment. Thank you to Mrs McGoldrick and Miss Mason for giving up their time to accompany us and to everyone else for bringing their unique contributions to my memories of the trip. Arran Byers


In Focus December 2012

AMY

Page 25

HANNAH

Summer 2012 - the summer of fun, sun and freedom. Finally, all my exams were over and done with and I couldn’t help but be excited at the prospect of the long stretch of nothingness which seemed to stretch ahead. Surely this summer would last forever? Wrong! It felt as though almost as soon as they began, the holidays were drawing to a close. With that, realisation dawned that I would soon be starting a new school where I didn’t know a soul ... It turns out, Birkenhead School is a unique place. Almost immediately, students who had spent the last five years together took the newcomers under their wing, and soon it felt as though we had been there all along. Although our ‘settling in’ was not without its ‘dodgy’ moments. A particular memory is on the first day, the daunting moment when one new girl decided that she needed to go to the toilet. As we seven new girls sat together, we realised none of us had a clue where the toilet actually was. Suddenly we all felt the need to accompany her. However, on the way back, we realised that we might look a little bizarre re-entering the Sixth Form Centre from the same direction en masse, so rather self-consciously we paired off, staggering our entrances by several minutes at a time. The first day over, I arrived home and began to relax... It really wasn’t as scary as I’d imagined and I’d actually managed to survive the day with no major mishaps! The next week passed in a blur of making friends, getting underway with work and adjusting to the completely different way of life in Sixth Form. Never before had I come into school in the morning to be quizzed by my form about how I was feeling and what I liked or disliked about the School. None of the new girls were used to getting anywhere near this level of attention in their old schools! Never before have I actually been disappointed to have to stay off school when I was ill. Every day at Birkenhead School is a completely different experience and no two lessons are the same. The Sixth Form in particular provides everyone more freedom but support is on hand, if needed. What is also unique about Birkenhead School is the close interaction that the students have with teachers; there are very few schools where this is possible! What better way to kick off a new school year than with a complete CHANGE? I came here from an all girls’ school, and to be honest, I don’t think I could ever look back. Yes, boys are sometimes absolutely bizarre, and they can’t seem to understand the importance of how a girl’s hair looks throughout the day and they seem to find the idea of having a girly chat an alien concept. But they can certainly still partake in every girl’s favourite pastime - gossiping! Despite having only been in the school for a couple of months, I already feel like I can call it home. It must be said, once a Birkonian, always a Birkonian! Amy Naylor, L6

Outdoor Pursuits 2012 After registration, everyone piled on to the coach and two hours of chatting, laughing and a great deal of singing later, we arrived at the “highly respectable” Tebay Services on the M6; “the only small locally owned company in England to have built and operate a Motorway Service Area.” After filling up on ‘healthy, homemade snacks’, we set off again towards Ullswater, the starting point for our Outdoor Pursuits adventure. We boarded a small ferry which took us swiftly across the lake to the landing stage, marking the commencement of our three-hour ‘ramble’ back to the coach. The walk was exhausting, with several challenging uphill sections but at least the weather was kind, enabling us keep relatively dry. The effort was well worth it because of the spectacular views of Cumbria from the highest points on the walk. Despite everyone being tired, the mood amongst the group was extremely light-hearted and there was joking and banter a-plenty. Memories were made that I’m sure will last us a lifetime. Back at the youth hostel in Keswick, we dined before changing into more suitable attire for a trip to the Lakeside Theatre by the lake, a short walk away. ‘Great Expectations’ was a skilfully produced play based on Dickens’s novel. Despite some confusion as to Estella’s motives, I am certain that many of us were just glad to enjoy the comfortable seats and warm surroundings after our long, fun-filled day. Hannah Triggs, L6 Having been up until all hours, (Girls in their room eating Skittles at midnight? Surely not....) waking at 7am wasn’t the most pleasant way to start the day. Despite the usual scramble for the showers, finding suitable attire for the day’s activities and eating breakfast, we still managed to leave the hostel at a respectable 9am to head for the Outdoor Pursuit Centre. And, what better way to make new friends than to take part in activities that are bound to embarrass you! First, my group had the pleasure of taking to the high ropes. There seems to be an unspoken rule which states you support each other, no matter how ridiculous one person’s reaction may be to the activity. After all, there’s certainly no better way for a new girl to create a positive impression among her peers than to spend half the High Ropes course clinging to a tree and screaming, “LET ME DOWN!” After a lunch of the classic sandwich/crisps/fruit/biscuit combo, my group was off ‘ghyll scrambling’. Despite Mr Lindberg’s view that this was “something to do before you die”, everyone started out feeling rather positive. Then we discovered that the current in the ghyll was ridiculously strong, after heavy rain throughout the night. It made everything seem ten times more petrifying than it actually was. Finally, gleeful to have survived the scramble, we all traipsed back to the coach. Having strengthened the bonds of old friendships and built new ones, the Lower Sixth filled their return journey together with song, sleep and even a touch of The Inbetweeners. I must say, as year groups go, this is a particularly lovely (albeit slightly bonkers) one, and in the words of a certain redheaded orphan named Annie, “I think I’m gonna like it here”.


In Focus December 2012

Page 26

Months(ish) of planning, A week of auditions A week of rehearsals, All boiling down to one night...

BIRKENHEAD SCHOOL’S GOT TALENT! At 7.30pm on Thursday 11 October, Bushell Hall is filled with parents, friends and passers-by. The lights dim, suddenly the stage is illuminated, two figures step out and the show begins. A myriad of talent is unveiled as the evening progresses, from comic turns, to singers to Adrian Dyu plays the classical pianists. The Steinway grand piano in prize of £152 (the age of Bushell Hall. He follows the school... clever isn’t some renowned pianists it?) is at stake, so naturally who have played on this nerves are running high. piano, including John Lill All the preparation, all the and Vladimir Ashkenazy, planning, all comes down to this! You could almost smell it, along with Domino pizzas being hastily consumed by the Student Council and Senior Prefect “organisers” at the back of the hall, as they re-stocked, energy depleted from preparations earlier that day. Acts were introduced by our very own Ant and Dec, aka Jamie Russell and Alex Watkins and the talent showcased during the show was superb. The judges were hard pressed to choose a winner, but nevertheless managed to whittle down the initial 13 contestants to three. From these last, the winner became clear as we saw the acts perform again: Adrian Dyu, playing a stunning Einoudi piece on piano, had everyone enraptured, Ashley Williams set some hearts aflutter as he sang and played the guitar, but the best was saved till last when we heard Ciara Williams who walked on stage and blew us all away again with her superb, winning rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Begin Again”. There are so many ‘thank yous’ to say after a massive, successful event like this this - the Student Council and Senior Prefects for putting the time and work into makING this wonderful evening a reality; Marco Galvani, pianist extraordinaire, without whom many of our acts could not have performed; Mr Clark and all of the other teachers who gave this event their full backing and support; our wise judges - Miss Dunn, Mr Blain, Mr Webster and Mr Murdoch - and last but certainly not least, to our wonderful audience who still turned up on such a wet and windy night to cheer on our incredibly talented array of contestants.

Left: Arran Byers tells the judges he is ‘Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down!” Above left: Tommy Keenan Above right: Harry Smethurst

The judges ponder.

The stars line up and wait with baited breath for the judges’ decision.

Rebecca Davies, Publicity Unit Ciara Williams, centre, steps forward to loud applause.


In Focus December 2012

It was with a certain amount of trepidation that this year’s 1st XV assembled under the leadership of Joe Doyle and Jack Walker to play against a very strong Old Birkonian team at the beginning of September. Seventy minutes later, however, having won 13 – 7, we knew that we had the makings of another very good side, especially if we could avoid too many injuries. Well, we have had to deal with a range of injuries but, despite these, the squad have worked hard and halfway through the season are still in the Daily Mail Vase as well as the Cheshire Cup. They have lost only 3 out of 9 games, racking up an impressive 44 tries and 260 points. Notable victories include 19 – 7 against Calday Grange GS and two matches where we scored over 70. Joe Doyle and Mike Doneo are the leading scorers, with 12 and 8 tries respectively but there are also 14 other names on the score sheet, including Louis McGrath’s first try. This season has definitely been a team effort. A particular mention should go to the boys from Y11 who have already become regulars in the First Team squad - Patrick Doyle, Tom Cornall, Dominic Maddox and Ben Unsworth (our new kicker). A busy run-up to Christmas follows and we hope that January see us in two cups and looking forward to the Sevens season. D Hendry, i/c 1st XV Team

Page 27

On Saturday 10 November, four Year 6 boys travelled to Abbeygate College to take part in the AJIS (The Association of Junior Independent Schools) quiz competition. The team comprised L to R: Alex Herod, Rohan Shenoy, Toby Brown and Will Blessing. The competition began with Birkenhead taking a narrow lead in the History round. We failed to add to that lead in the following rounds because of a combination of difficult questions and some great answers from Bolton School. We particularly struggled on USA states. However, we managed to get back to level terms due to some fantastic answers by everyone in the mini marathons. We went into the interval joint first with Bolton, and hoped that we could get an early lead in the next round. The Music round brought the Bolton boys back out in front, only to be brought back to level terms by great knowledge of famous houses from Birkenhead. We then made a final dash for the finish, securing a one-point lead thanks to some attentive watching in the observation round. Sadly though, we failed to achieve victory overall because we let the points slip in the Sports round and it was all level at the end. We were called up for a tiebreak question with the Bolton boys. The question was, ‘What was the value of Britain’s first multi coloured coin?’ A long silence ensued, no one daring to buzz in, and then, out of the blue, a Bolton boy buzzed in and said £2. Bolton won and, though gracious in their victory, left a disappointed Birkenhead team. We would like to thank Mrs Goldstone for making this event possible and Abbey Gate College for hosting this event. Toby Brown 6HS

As ever, Birkenhead School’s CCF proudly led the parade preceding our Remembrance Day Service in the School Chapel on Sunday 11 November. Photographs Mrs H Keenan


In Focus December 2012

Page 28

Christmas cards Two details from the School Chapel’s stained glass windows. Pack of 10 A5 cards with envelopes £5.50

Storm proof golf brolly £25 School roller ball pen £5

NEW * Chapel Choir CD £8 BarLine CD £8

Buy both for £15

Available from the School offices or online from the School shop www.birkenheadschool.co.uk/ catalog

Silver-plated cufflinks engraved with the School crest £20

In Focus, December 2012  

The School's magazine for December 2012

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you