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

We are proud to say, BS is the ONLY school on the Wirral to qualify for the BBC’s list of the top 227 schools where more than 25% of students achieved at least grades AAB in ‘facilitating subjects’ – those needed for entrance to the competitive Russell Group universities. In fact 29% of Birkenhead School students reached this threshold.

Government Tables (A Level) published Thursday 24th January 2013 Number of students

Av point per exam entry

Av total points per student

*Percentage achieving at least AAB in "academic A levels"

Birkenhead School

42

237.4

828.2

29%

Wirral Grammar School for Girls

145

233.8

1054.5

23%

West Kirby Grammar School

164

235.8

1064.9

21%

School names

Birkenhead High School Academy Wirral Grammar School for Boys Calday Grange Grammar School

66

224.3

823.6

17%

128

223.4

1084

16%

236

212.8

958.1

14%

Pensby High School for Boys

34

199.1

604.8

13%

St Anselm's College

78

198.1

827.5

13%

Upton Hall School FCJ

96

219.6

967.9

9%

Birkenhead Sixth Form College

355

203.9

719.4

1%

A-level grade A* scores 300 points, A = 270, B = 240, C = 210, D = 180, E = 150. Schools are also ranked by the average points score per entry. This indicates the quality of performance. Again, one examination graded A* scores 300 points and so on. *For the first time this year, the tables also include the number of students who gain good grades – at least two As and a B – in so-called "facilitating subjects". These are subjects that are commonly seen as a route into leading Russell Group universities. This is shown in the final column. The measure reflects achievement in Maths and Further Maths, English Literature, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History and Modern and Classical Languages.

Drama - pgs 9, 17

Art - pgs 22,23

Dreaming spires? - p4

HAC - pgs 10,11

Well done indeed to the U15 Girls’ Lacrosse team who won the North of England finals in February, and took part in the National Championships in London earlier this month. Unfortunately, though they won all their first round games, they lost out in the knock-out round of the competition. Full report in the next issue.


In Focus March 2013

This year two Lower Sixth students attended a five-week series of Nuclear Physics master classes at Liverpool University. Kevin Wong and Thomas Finch worked on a series of degree level experiments and attended university lectures. They also worked with Sixth Form students from other schools to produce a piece of display work communicating their research into aspects of nuclear physics. This is the second year that students from Birkenhead School have attended these master classes. Last year Harry McGee attended the nuclear physics master classes and scooped second prize for his work on using nuclear physics in security detectors. Later on this year Lower 6th Physics students will attend a day of lectures on Particle Physics at Liverpool University and will take part in a two-day visit to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. P Webster, Head of Physics Below l to r: Tom Finch, Harry McGee and Kevin Wong

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In Claire House t-shirts: In the chair Alex, standing behind Alex, Oscar (R) and their father (centre) WIRRAL’S unsung heroes were in the spotlight at the end of last year when their hard work was recognised at the first-ever Wirral's Golden Globes Awards ceremony held at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton. There were many categories but awarded ‘Young Hero of the Year’ was Oscar Ratnaike in the Upper Sixth. He has stood by and helped to care for his brother, Alex, who has severe and complex medical problems. Oscar walked alongside Alex when the latter was selected to carry to the Paralympic Torch (featured in the last edition of IF) and has also raised cash for Claire House where his brother attends. Oscar said: “I am so humbled to be here tonight. Loving and caring for my brother isn’t a hobby or a job – it’s just a way of life, whether he can walk or not.” Several local celebrities turned out to pay tribute to all of Wirral’s ‘heroes’. They included Great British Bake-Off TV star Paul Hollywood, comedian Stan Boardman, singer Steve McFarlane, renowned journalist and poet Peter Grant and Radio Merseyside story-teller/musician Cath Roberts. Former Brookside actress Suzanne Collins, country singer Charlie Landsborough and celebrity blogger and star of Desperate Scouse wives Jaiden Michael also presented awards. Frankie Goes to Hollywood guitarist/singer Brian “Nasher” Nash brought the ceremony to a thundering close with his powerful solo rendition of the band’s 1984 number-one smash hit The Power of Love. Radio Merseyside presenter Roger Lyon hosted the event.


In Focus March 2013

We went to visit new Director of Music, Mr Philip Robinson, to ask him a few questions about both himself and his hopes for the future of the Music department here at Birkenhead School. Having spent the past three and a half years revolutionising the department at The King’s School, Chester, he has now ventured north, to the Wirral, with his wife Krista (also a Music teacher) and seven month old son Hugo. With responsibility for Music across the whole school, he hopes to see existing groups continue to flourish and also give all students in both Prep and Senior Schools as many opportunities as possible to make music during their school careers. He decided that Birkenhead was the place for him as soon as he felt the school’s friendly and warm atmosphere and saw the great opportunities that could be developed over time, in the Music School, the Chapel and in the wider school community. He has an incredible passion for music and performing, with his main instruments being the piano and French horn. He would love to share this passion with as many people as possible as he believes music is something to be shared with and cherished by all. He says music is his life beyond his family, but he also loves to watch (and occasionally play) cricket, although unsurprisingly most of his free time is now spent with Krista and baby Hugo. His favourite composer (when forced to choose) is J. S. Bach, however we couldn’t convince him to pick a favourite piece of music. Despite this, when asked about his favourite musical, he answered immediately: ‘Les Misérables’ – which he is massively keen to produce as one of the first whole school musicals we have seen here for several years. All we can say is: bring on 2014, Les Mis is coming! Hannah Triggs, Rebecca Davies, Katie Laing and Amy Naylor, L6th

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Mark Turner is the new Bursar at Birkenhead School. He shadowed Clive Button, the former Bursar in December, but is now officially in office. Mark grew up in Leicester and went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied Law. During his time in college, he played volleyball for East Midlands, korfball (google it!), squash, was the only goalkeeper for the college (3 teams), the cricket captain and the Christian Union leader. As you can see Mark thoroughly enjoyed his time at university. During his undergraduate days at Oxford, he spent two months gaining work experience with the West Mercia Constabulary. After leaving university, Mark decided to join the police service with West Mercia (starting as a constable in Worcester). He gained a place on the national accelerated promotion scheme whereby, if he continued to perform well, he would gain promotion to Sergeant and then Inspector. He continued to perform and prosper and, at the age of just 34 he was promoted to Chief Superintendant and ran policing across Herefordshire. He is proud of the work he did to ensure the community felt safe and to ensure that his police staff and officers felt valued whilst often undertaking what might otherwise be thankless tasks. Mark has kept up his passion for sport and at the age of 40 scored his first ever century in cricket - then qualified as an umpire. He is looking forward to the cricket season at Birkenhead School, especially due to the view of School Field from his office. At the moment he enjoys playing squash with Mr Edmunds and Mr Rule most weeks. Mark is an active Christian and applied for the job at Birkenhead School because he feels that he had a vocation to change career path to his current role. He had never before visited the area and is currently living away from his family who still reside in Hereford, but he is very much looking forward to them moving here later in the year. Meanwhile, he is currently travelling down to be with them at weekends. He said that he hopes they will be settled in by the start of the summer, and his son David will be starting in the Prep as well. Mark is very proud of getting the job here at Birkenhead School, but he understandably feels that his proudest achievement of all time is being a husband and father to the best of his ability Jordan Hart and Tom Green, Year 11

About the Bursar - did you know? …

Mr Robinson in a Chapel Choir rehearsal

Mark has a number of gaming consoles, and enjoys playing his Playstation 3 the most (his favourite game is Assassins Creed II). Mark doesn’t have enough time to get into the online world of gaming, so don’t start trying to search for his name on Xbox Live or Playstation as you won’t get a chance to challenge him. If Mark were on a desert island, alongside the Bible and the works of Shakespeare, he would like to take his Play Station 3 set up, the book ‘Les Misérables’ and a kite. He has a passion for pinball machines and in its prime, his collection had a grand total of 5 machines. At the moment, however, he has only 2. Unlike his predecessor, Mark has no real preference over cars... as long as they’re big enough to fit a pinball machine in! His favourite dish is Toad in the Hole.


In Focus March 2013

L to R: Harry Sturgess, Matthew Rogers and Marco Galvani

I was first attracted to Cambridge University after being captivated by the serene singing and stunning atmosphere of King’s College Chapel, as depicted on the annual ‘Carols from King’s’ on the BBC. Up until that moment, an Oxbridge application had never really entered my mind, due to the image of supercilious public school boys and upcoming Einsteins often associated with the two universities. However, the surreal ambience and beauty of Cambridge, combined with the opportunity to study a very interesting subject alongside singing in a chapel choir, encouraged me to apply to the university. My feisty views and love of debate first drew me towards Law as a subject. This was confirmed after attending the Cambridge Law Conference in March and reading a series of books on the law, written by various Cambridge lecturers. Despite being a little unsure about which college to apply to, a walk through the ancient courts, Bridge of Sighs and spectacular chapel of St. John’s College confirmed my choice. It was the mixture of a beautiful setting, a world renowned choir and a vibrant environment that made me apply to one of Cambridge’s finest establishments. I was understandably nervous on the day of interview, as I braced myself for the rigorous assault course of two interviews, some preparatory reading and a tricky Cambridge Law Test. The subject specific interview was undoubtedly the hardest aspect, involving some very thought-provoking discussion that tested intellect, stamina and out-of-the box thinking. At the end of the day, I really had very little idea about whether or not I had done enough to achieve my Cambridge dream. To receive the offer letter in January was a truly incredible moment and one that I will never forget. I now hope to get a choral scholarship in the choir of St. John’s College, potentially with a gap year at Norwich Cathedral. My advice to any Oxbridge hopeful would be to absolutely grasp the opportunity and at least give it your best try. If anyone wants to catch me in a few years time, I hope that the best places to find me will be in the Chapel of St. John’s or in the Cambridge Union! Matthew Rogers

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I became interested in applying to The Queen’s College after attending the Eton Choral Course over the summer that was held there. I loved the atmosphere of the college and I was attracted by the Oxford choral tradition. On the Choral Course we sang Howell’s “St. Paul’s” service in the chapel. The power that the choir produced made me feel that being part of the musical community in Oxford would be an incredibly valuable experience. I was interviewed twice at Queen’s and I also had an interview at Merton College. The interviews were very intense, and all left me unsure about whether I had been successful. The students at Queen’s made me feel very welcome and were very helpful in answering any questions I had. I also had a music faculty interview in which I performed a piano piece. I stayed in Oxford for four days, and the fact that the interviews were very spread out gave me the opportunity to explore Oxford and parts of the College that I hadn’t previously seen. The highlight of my experience was coming across the upper library in Queen’s, which I had never seen before. The serene atmosphere of this part of the College containing thousands of ancient volumes really attracted me. I was able to do some work in this part of the library while I was in Queen’s, which provided a relief from the stress of the interviews. Overall, I found applying to Oxford quite stressful as when you are trying to relax in the college you get the impression that everyone is constantly assessing you, even outside of interviews. Although the experience was incredibly testing, studying at an institution such as Oxford would be a very valuable experience. Marco Galvani After what seemed like an age of looking at university courses, writing and re-writing my personal statement (helped along the way by a lot of Mr Lindberg’s ‘constructive criticism’) and doing admissions tests, I finally heard in early December that I had been invited for an interview at Oxford. I had found it difficult to choose a college – they all seemed to say they had high academic standards, good facilities and that I would have a great time there – but eventually settled on Hertford, applying to study Engineering. The interview process was challenging but at the same time enjoyable. For my first interview, at Hertford, the atmosphere was friendly: we sat on sofas around a fire. The second, at St Peter’s College, was entirely different – I was given a chair behind a desk in a bare room, sitting opposite two very serious looking academics. I was a bit surprised that I was asked barely anything about my personal statement in either interview. They seemed to be much more interested in whether I could solve maths and physics problems, and I came out of the interview unsure of whether I had impressed or not. I was delighted to hear in early January that Hertford had made me an offer of A*AA. Having looked round properly at the time of the interview, it appeared to be exactly the type of college I wanted - not too formal, close to the centre of Oxford, cheap bar... The whole process was long, drawn-out and at times stressful, but definitely worth it. For anyone thinking about applying to Oxford or Cambridge, my advice would be to just go for it – there’s no reason not to. Harry Sturgess Harry, Marco and Matthew all have offers and to secure their place will need A Level grades of A*AA, AAA and A*AA respectively.


In Focus March 2013

On 17th November we opened the doors for our Diamond Xmas Bazaar. Once again we were lucky with the weather which is always a huge boost to our visiting parents, pupils and friends. The committee had worked hard to transform the Sports Hall and Prep Gym into something a little more festive and this was made easier as we adorned the walls with commemorative bunting that Years 3 to 6 made for the occasion. We welcomed back many of our regular franchise stalls and saw some new faces too. Our school stalls, of course, looked as good as ever, if not better. The Grand Raffle, Chinese Raffle and Paper Auction were a huge success and we would like to thank all the parents and businesses who donated prizes, hampers and gift vouchers for these. One of the most popular stalls is the Mug Stall and this year we welcomed a new face to our committee who took on the challenge of running this. Together with a team of helpers they wrapped hundreds of mugs and made the stall look as fantastic as always. Cafe Noel continued to delight its customers with good food and excellent service. It is now run with military precision and queues are a thing of the past! The grotto delighted our younger visitors and Santa was kept busy throughout the day. We also had the pleasure of entertainment from Barline and the Big Band both of whom added something special to the atmosphere. The Prep Gym hosted the ever popular Bouncy Castles and Gladiator Duel as well the games and stalls organised by the Cubs and Scouts The Bazaar is a huge team effort, from the Committee, who have been planning since July, to the families who donate toys, cakes, brica-brac and prizes, the parents who turn up during the week to sort donations and to run the stalls on the day and of course the Scout Leaders who do so much work behind the scenes. We also had the services of the First and Second Rugby Teams who helped with all the lifting and carrying to set up the Bazaar and clear away at the end of the day. Our helpers are too numerous to mention individually but every offer of help, however small, is greatly appreciated, This year we raised approximately ÂŁ4700.00 which will be split between 20th Birkenhead Scout Group and the Parents' Association. We hope that you enjoyed the day and look forward to the 61st Bazaar in 2013 Denise Durband Bazaar Committee Chairman

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Well done and what an achievement for George Long of 5C who was awarded his 1st Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo in October, 2012 at the age of just 10. George travelled to Derby three times with his father where, on each occasion, he had to undergo a 2-hour assessment. Finally, he had to go to Bristol for the actual grading. which consisted of patterns, sparring and self defence, together with a verbal assessment in Korean. All the hard work and commitment to Taekwondo paid off, though unfortunately resulted in him missing the commencement of his rugby season. George started his Taekwondo training at the age of 5 with the Jason Rodd Academy of Taekwondo in West Kirby. George's instructor, Jason Rodd, commented that "nobody works harder than George with his application and dedication to his training." George’s dedication also resulted in him getting third place in the English Sparring Championships earlier last year.


In Focus March 2013

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Every year, Birkenhead School holds Open Days in April and September to show off our wonderful grounds, facilities and people. This year was my first time as a tour guide and so I was unsure of what to expect. We arrived before any of the visitors one Saturday morning in late September. At first, I was a little apprehensive as to what was expected of me and, even worse, I’m not the most confident of people, so I was actually rather nervous about my role during Open Day. Shortly after our briefing, I was paired up with my first visitors. It was up to me now to show prospective parents all that the School had to offer. For a change, it was a gloriously sunny and warm autumn day, and the family of visitors seemed suitably impressed by what they saw. We can never be complacent, I know, but I felt a little warm glow as I escorted them around the campus and felt their liking for BS grow.. To think, this is MY School! Everyone had organised a huge range of activities to show off what our curriculum has to offer both inside and outside the classroom. The first stop on my tour was the CCF section, where Mr Hill and Mr Frowe stood firmly to attention, ready to talk to parents about the CCF. On display, they had an impressive array of equipment including tents, camping gear, stoves and more! I know some visitors will have slept more

easily in their beds that night knowing that the fine figures of our cadets were ready to defend this blessed isle in general and Birkenhead School in particular. We moved on to the School Library where Mrs Reeve was waiting to show off the range materials and sources which are available to assist our studies. In the Meeting Room above, Mr Davies was busy conducting the School’s ‘Big Band’ which impressed not only the parents but me too. They thoroughly deserved the standing ovation they received, which is perhaps easier to achieve when there are no seats for the audience! The parents I was showing around were interested in putting their child into Year 7, so Overdale was the obvious next stop. Ms Smeaton, the Head of Overdale, and Mr Rimmer, the Assistant Head of Overdale, were waiting at the top of the steps to the front door to welcome visitors (how grand, just like something out of Downton Abbey!). Inside Overdale, there was an impressive display of work from past and current pupils and lots of boards with photographs from some of the many trips available to pupils during their 2 years in Overdale. From Overdale, we could faintly hear the explosions resonating from the science block; it appeared someone had let Mr Hayward near something flammable again! We went to investigate. Inside the Physics lab, Mr Webster was demonstrating the solar powered cars which A Level students have been working on. It’s a shame someone had overlooked the roofing situation which prevented the sunlight from reaching the cars! Also being demonstrated were explosive bubbles - visitors were invited to set fire to bubbles of hydrogen which, of course, exploded. Fortunately, everybody watching managed to preserve their eyebrows. To my delight, in the Biology lab, boards of dissected rats lined the back of the room. I’m not the keenest biologist, but seeing the dissected rats was truly fascinating! All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed escorting people around the School, it was a truly eye-opening experience, and I only wish I’d taken part in an Open Day before! I felt proud to show visitors the School that I attend and have grown to love, for Birkenhead School is certainly full of opportunities to take advantage of and make the best of oneself. Jordan Hart, Yr 11

Last summer Mr Rule encouraged a few Sixth Form Economists to enter the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Essay Challenge. The main component of the challenge involved writing a 1,400 word essay on one of a choice of three topics . The title I chose was “Why do most economists favour free trade and freer immigration when polls suggest the majority of people are against it?” Happily, on my return to School in September, I found out that I’d been placed in the top 10% of applicants and was invited down to the IEA in Westminster for awards and presentations during a day in half term. I was awarded a Certificate of Distinction in the Dorian Fisher Memorial Prize by Stephen Davies, the Institute’s Educational Director. The day itself was enjoyable and I hope this will help me in my university application. I’d like to thank the dynamic Mr Rule for encouraging me to enter the competition; I think he was more pleased than I was, given that our School was awarded a selection of learning materials because of our high number of participants entering the competition! Nick Gill Footnote: Congratulations to Nick who was also awarded a Distinction in his LAMDA Grade 7 last year. He got the Silver Medal for his solo acting performance. Following his performance in ‘The Infant’ in February, he has also been selected for the Festival Company as part of the National Students’ Drama Festival.


In Focus March 2013

WOW! A staggering total of £1,285.80 raised by Prep children for Children In Need. Thank you. The Prep held various events to celebrate Children In Need on Friday 16th November. Children from Years 1 and 2 up to Year 6 brought in a mountain of cakes, cookies and biscuits to sell to friends at break times. This raised £353.42. The children also brought in donations on the day and wore something spotty, green, yellow, blue or orange. A FUN day was enjoyed by all. The School purchased Children In Need wristbands and Pudsey Bear key rings to sell to raise additional funds for this worthwhile cause. These proved very popular and another £300 was added to the fundraising total. Several children held various fundraising events out of school and brought in the proceeds to add to the pot. Isabella Heckstall–Smith, 3B, made over 70 felt waistcoats for the Pudsey key rings which she sold for 20p each, raising over £14. Well

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done Isabella! Other children joined in too, bringing in their own waistcoats. Money was coming in from all corners of the playground! Mrs J Waddell

We arrived at Noctorum Field around 2pm on a Saturday late last year. It was freezing cold and pouring with rain and, while some of us arrived on time, others appeared less inclined to experience Duke of Edinburgh Expedition training days in such adverse weather conditions. We all gathered around inside the pavilion where Mr Hill explained why we were here and what aspects of the expedition we would be covering during training - the dreaded weekend had begun. Mr Hill told us that we would be being briefed on each of the rules of a D of E Expedition and how to go about carrying it out successfully. The areas we spent time talking about were clothing, cooking, setting up, taking down and packing away tents, codes of conduct, health and safety and what we had to do before, during and after the expedition. After the briefing, we went off to do our first activities. Pitching our tents was going well until the hail started, then we all got soaking wet and cold yet again. Cooking our tea wasn’t much better either. It was pitch black, apart from the light from a dim torch held between someone’s teeth, and our hands were freezing. In addition, we didn’t have the greatest of ingredients for our meal to choose from, so it wasn’t exactly one of Jamie Oliver’s amazing 15-minute meals, although, I’m sure he could have done much better than we did! We did manage to cope, however, but only just! After we had finished tea, we went back to the pavilion to work in groups and do some team-building exercises such as a memory game, paper towers and bridges and the plank. These were all extremely fun because most of us weren’t very good at them. After this we went out to our tents and slept (surprisingly), only to be awoken by Mr Hill at some unearthly hour of the morning. Slowly we crawled out of our tents and began cooking our breakfast. After we had eaten, we attempted to put our tents away. This took time because the bags seemed to have shrunk overnight whilst the tents seemed to have become larger. In the end we managed to get the tents packed away and the hellish nightmare was finally over. However, looking back from the comfort of my floral armchair, I realise that I went there that day as a boy, but I left it as a man ready for whatever D of E had to throw at me, whether it be another training day, the expedition itself or even a damsel in distress! Tom Green, Year 11

It is remarkable that such a relatively large group of BS girls play Lacrosse for Cheshire. Congratulations to: At the beginning of January Daniel Evans in Year 8 ran in the Merseyside Cross Country Championship with his team, which won. Daniel came 5th individually in the event. The following week, running for the School, he finished to tie third overall in the Merseyside Schools Cross Country League. Well done to Daniel on his fantastic achievement at this level, where he is competing against many runners much older than him.

Victoria Wilkinson, Annabel Saverimutto, Lucy Rogers, Millie James, India Wild and Phoebe James who play in the Cheshire U18 and U15 squads And to Ellie Durband, Rosie Durband, Alice Gollins, Chloe Hardisty, Sophie Hatherley, Connie Sturgess and Bella Wild who play in the U15 squad.


In Focus March 2013

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I feel my nerves jumping about It is like I am on a roundabout I walk to the start of the race In my head I know I will set the pace Bang goes the starting gun Then we all begin to run Faster and faster as the race goes on I can feel the line, I am nearly done

Last November, Year 9 went on a history trip to Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum for the day. Manchester was the world’s first industrial city and was famous for its textiles and cotton trade. Cotton cannot be grown in England and has to be kept at about 30 degrees, so it is normally grown in countries such as India, the West Indies or the Deep South in the United States. Goods needed to be transported as quickly as possible to manufacture and sell them, so when railways were invented in the nineteenth century it was faster than using canals. I found the textile demonstration, which we had at 11:30, particularly interesting as it demonstrated actively how dangerous and loud the machines were whilst showing us how they worked. I previously thought that they would throw the seeds away along with the parts of the cotton that you can’t use but I learnt that in the ginning mill they would take the seeds out of the cotton and then crush them to make oil which is still used in things like shampoos. The seed could then be used to make animal feed called ‘cattle cake’. And obviously the seeds can be planted again for the next harvest of cotton. Before the demonstration I understood how dangerous and loud the machines were but it still came as a shock when they were turned on. And then we were told that the noise would have even louder as the machines were three times smaller than normal and in the 19 th century there would have been 50 of those machines all in one open-plan room. I wasn’t surprised when the guide told us they used sign language in the factories. Also the Speed Frames used to twist the slivers of cotton to increase their strength spun incredibly fast and showed us how easy it was for the children (who were employed for this job as they had manual dexterity and small fingers) to get their

I hear cheering as I approach the finishing line If I don't win, I fear I will pay a deadly fine Pain pulsating through my veins My energy dramatically begins to drain. Explosions of relief and joy I truly am the golden boy Now the race is past and done I can say, ‘I am Sam, the boy who won!’ Sam Cross, year 7 Well done to Sam whose poem above has been chosen by Young Writers to appear in a book - a collection of poems written by children all over the country - which come out in August. Then 12 individual finalists will be picked from the anthology and announced on the Young Writers’ website.

hands caught and amputated in the machines when sweeping in between the flyers while they were running as the machines did not have guards. I also found out that they were paid for how much work they did, not for how many hours they worked. We were told how orphans were usually employed as scavengers, crawling on their hands and knees under the machines picking up any waste cotton thread discarded in the process. This was because they only had a few seconds when it was ‘safe’ to be under the machine during the spinning process. There was a high mortality rate and the factory owners knew orphans didn’t have parents who would care if they died. The orphans often tried to run away from the factories. There was a workhouse owner nicknamed ‘Bloody’ Douglas who used to make sure they wouldn’t run away and would tie runaways to the machine with a chain. We were also told about the diseases that were a common occurrence. The Blowing Room was nicknamed “The Devil’s Room” as it got so hot and filled with cotton that you couldn’t see anything. The cotton got everywhere in your eyes, up your nose and in your mouth. The cotton the workers or “hands” inhaled got into their lungs and slowly rotted causing diseases. Lung cancer was also a common occurrence because of all the dust that built up from the windows not being opened to provide a hot, damp atmosphere for the cotton. Kissing shuttles were also unhealthy to the weavers who used them as the cotton and dust would again be inhaled many, many times as they sucked the cotton through the hole. Also if there was blood on the shuttle and saliva it could lead to diseases such as tuberculosis. Although I found the textile demonstration very interesting and informative, I also thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the visit. This was mainly due to some of the interactive displays and the fact we had to find the answers we needed in a sewer/basement instead of being told about it in a classroom! Ciara Williams 9PMW


In Focus March 2013

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The cast and crew of Kindertransport Photo L to R: Adam Wells, Katie Laing, Becky Davies, Caroline Welsh, Chris Morris, Siân Round, Luca Galvani (Composer & Musical Director), Eleanor Hilton, Amy Naylor, Bella McGoldrick, Mrs McGoldrick (Director), Alex Karus-McElvogue. Germany, 1938: The threat of the Nazis to their race is almost too much to bear for the Jewish people, and they are desperate to give their children any chance to escape the inevitable fate that they are subject to. The Nazis agree that Jewish children may leave the country to go to England, after an agreement made between the two countries, but only if a substantial amount of money is paid, and the children leave without their parents. These trains are called the Kindertransport, Kinder meaning children. A small child, Eva Schlessinger, is taken away to Manchester, and slowly strips herself of her German and Jewish heritage, instead embracing all that England has to offer. But when, more than forty years later, Eva (who has by this point changed her name to the Anglicised Evelyn) and her daughter come across the documents that reveal her true past, Evelyn is torn... Should she undo all of her work since having been in this country and accept that she is truly German, or continue to run from the clutches of her past? This is the basis of the play Kindertransport by Diane Samuels, recently performed by Birkenhead School students. As a member of the AS Level English group, and a keen actress, I was asked immediately by Mrs McGoldrick if I wanted to take part, along with Caroline Welsh and Becky Davies. This was the first time since studying the play in English Literature that the School have had enough girls to take part in it, as the play calls for a mainly female cast. Throwing in Sian Round of Year 11 and Year 10’s Eleanor Hilton, as well as Alex Karus McElvogue, the cast was chosen and rehearsals started, flurrying past in a blur. Half term came and with it, Sunday rehearsals. Finally, 22nd November arrived, and the cast were all petrified. Ready or not, it was show time... The play would never have gone anywhere without the help of the backstage crew; the highlights of both show nights were definitely musical director, Luca Galvani, being “made over” by Katie Laing, and Arran Byers trying his hand at putting make up on the cast! Although we were worried about lines being forgotten and the sensitivity of the subject not being addressed appropriately, it was finally too late to care anymore, and the lights came up. Nerves finally kicked in as the first line of the play, “What’s an abyss,

Mutti?” was uttered, and there was no going back. Making my way on stage at last, I was shocked to see the sheer amount of people in the audience: it looked like we had a hit! Taking the audience on such an emotional journey can be a risk, and there was a worry that the audience would fail to fully understand the reasoning behind the simultaneous staging of the play, or even the full concept of the story. Although fascinating from a studying point of view, it was a major concern that we would fail to portray the storyline effectively enough. However, the play was a huge success! We did not anticipate the audience size, or even the sheer amount of praise given afterwards. In the words of Mr Hopkins, “the thing that struck me most was the intimacy of the production; the audience were close enough to the stage for the cast to really show their emotion when raising their voices”. Even Mr Clark stepped in on the act, telling the staff that he found the play “very moving”! Kindertransport is honestly one of the best things I have ever decided to take part in – the small, intimate cast meant that we all made some new, hopefully longlasting friends, and it is an experience that none of us will ever forget! Amy Naylor, L6th The Hook of Holland statue, dedicated to the Kindertransport. Called Channel Crossing to Life, commemorates the role played by Dutch people in helping to save the lives of Jewish children fleeing Nazi oppression.


In Focus March 2013

Over 20 years ago Mr Lytollis, a youthful and enthusiastic Head of Sport at Birkenhead School, had a vision that school sports need not stop at the boundaries of conventional school terms. No longer would pupils have to roam the streets looking for mischief or indeed the occasional game of ‘jumpers for goal posts’ in the park. The idea was simple: four weeks in the middle of the summer holidays for students between the ages of 4 and 14 to come and play a variety of sports. Coaches were recruited from teaching staff and former pupils and most of those attending were pupils at the school. Its popularity grew quickly and, unconstrained by the current 21st century child safety ratios, it wasn’t long before School Field was slewing with hundreds of children from schools across the Wirral and beyond. Indeed I was one such pupil and remember fondly, with a certain degree of rose tinted visual aid, those scorching summers of the early 90s where seemingly endless football tournaments were only occasionally interrupted for Martin Metcalfe performing karaoke outside the Sports Hall or the promise of a Thursday afternoon ‘water-fight’. As numbers continued to grow and space around School became scarce (after all there’s only so many games of rounders you can have inside the Bushell Hall before a precious painting gets damaged) it was decided to extend the courses to a full 7 week schedule and offer an increasing variety of them. External staff were brought in to provide specialist dance and drama tuition, with productions taking place at the close of each week. The sports courses became more specialised and students were able to book for a week to do cricket, football, tennis, rugby or even golf. This diversification meant that parents felt able to send all of their children to Birkenhead School’s HAC, safe in the knowledge that there was something for everyone. By this stage I was no longer a participant of the courses but was working as an assistant, alongside my brother and countless other OBs. This was something that became common place and, even as I’m writing this, Charlotte Lytollis, a current U6th former and formally an attendee of the HAC, is assisting with a multi-sports week. Who knows, it might go full circle and in a few years time she’ll be in charge of all the courses and my kids will be running around. A shocking thought indeed. The holiday courses have always been run with pupils’ and parents’ needs in mind and so around 7 years ago it was decided to extend our operations to an ‘Early Morning Drop Off’ session from 8 am –

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10 am and a ‘Late Pickup’ session from 4 pm - 6 pm. These were aimed at helping our many working parents who wanted a full day of activities for their children. Also, to reduce the timeless burden of making children’s packed lunches every morning, we introduced a sit down lunch in the Dining Hall, which provided a mixture of hot and cold food in a bid to meet all requirements. About this time, the courses were also extended to a 12 week programme, which ran in every holiday period excluding Christmas. This gave scope to introduce new courses that were season specific, so skiing was run at February half term and Easter, and water sports courses were run at the Marine Lake during the summer. Our climbing wall also saw increasing use and it is now a staple part of any of our multi-sports course. The idea of offering courses that were nonsport specific flourished and by recruiting more instructors and tutors from outside and inside the School we were able to widen our field of expertise and offer the full spectrum of activities that the HAC now has. We currently run over 60 courses during the year, with 17 unique activities taking place. Recent additions to our course offering are cooking for the Minis and Juniors and photography, film, archery, horse riding, design & technology and an art workshop for our Young Adventurers. These courses are all run alongside our core activities of multi-sports and climbing, which remain some of our most popular courses. So what about the future? Well Birkenhead School remains one of the largest and most successful activity course providers in the North West of England and our aim is to keep it that way. We are currently looking to move our booking and payment systems online, to reduce the burden of form filling from our parents and we are always on the lookout for new courses that will give students an even wider variety of opportunities and experiences. Our philosophy has always been to employ enthusiastic and motivated staff, whose priority is to ensure that all students, regardless of age or ability, will have the best possible time whilst in our care. This remains the case and I am confident that students will be having as much fun on the courses now as I did 20 years ago. Rupert Rule, i/c HAC


In Focus March 2013

Children enjoy our unique campus and fantastic facilities. And parents can rest assured their children are in a safe environment taking part in a range of challenging and exciting activities! Adventurer and Explorer courses provide a great range of activities for boys and girls from 4 to 15 years. Early drop-off, late pick-up Fun Club Freshly prepared 2-course lunch Dates: Easter 2 - 12 April May half-term 28 - 31 May Summer 8 July - 23 August October half-term 21 - 1 November For more details, visit the HAC website:

birkenheadschool.co.uk/ holiday-courses

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In Focus March 2013 Recently, the Year 9 Ancient Greek class had the opportunity to take part in a very helpful interactive workshop. One of the things we did was to try on some Greek armour and learn about its origins. I was able to try on the armour and I have to say I would struggle to run around wearing it. The set included chainmail, a chest plate, a helmet, a shield and, of course, a sword. An optional addition was a pike. We learnt that, after a battle, soldiers would gather up new equipment which was better than theirs from the slain rather than having to pay for new armour or weapons. Another activity was to write our name on a piece of papyrus in Ancient Greek. Mine just said, ‘Matthew’. It is quite difficult to transliterate words into Ancient Greek due to the complexity of the alphabet and the fact that they had letters we don’t have and we have letters they didn’t. The next and most popular activity was the Tunnel Excavation, which entailed crawling through a tunnel to find ancient Greek artefacts such as pottery pieces and coins. Then we had to put together all the artefacts we found like the pieces of a puzzle. Even though I didn’t participate because of my addiction to another activity, I was told it was good fun. My favourite activity was an Ancient Greek version of Dungeons and Dragons. The object of this game is to find a tunnel (made of card) which allows you an escape from the labyrinth. Most students attempted this game but eventually gave up when they couldn’t find a way out, whereas I was determined to succeed and hence missed the excavation tunnel. Unfortunately, the workshop was only two periods long, so I didn’t have time to find my out in the end, but it was good fun anyway. Other activities included making your own chain mail (which is incredibly difficult), identifying different dates pottery was made and gluing artefacts back together. All in all, it was an enjoyable and interesting workshop, which I learnt a lot from, and I think I can also say that the rest of my class felt the same. Matthew Macdonald, Year 9

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Year 9 Greek explored Ancient Greece in a hands-on workshop. After a short introduction by our instructor Tony, we got down to work. There were multiple activities to try, all interesting and all with something to teach us about Ancient Greece - it was great fun and really well constructed. The workshop consisted of activities including fortune telling, pottery work, Greek/ Roman weaponry and armour, writing on Papyrus and an ancient game that the Greeks used to play. Personally, my favourite ‘station’ was the one consisting of ancient pottery, some genuine. I found this particular intriguing because of the amazing craftsmanship of the pottery so long ago. There were activities based on archaeological digs, which I thought were cleverly organised. It was obvious many enjoyed the weaponry and armour, with swords and spears, breast plates and helmets, shields and chainmail. We were invited to wear the chainmail, which was heavier than expected and required help to put on. We were also able to try on the breast plate and helmet, and wield the sword. An ancient game was confusing and I didn’t fully comprehend it at first, but I gave it a go. Eventually, I understood; you had to find pieces of connecting tunnel, laying them from your starting piece until, finally, a chamber connected to the tunnel. Once you had reached the chamber, the character you were playing had to face an adversary, usually a demon. Then we rolled a dice in order to acquire cards on which were the means and devices to defeat the enemy. We never did finish this game! The fortune-telling was certainly interesting and sparked speculation about some people’s characters! We picked four stones, or ‘runes’ and turned them over one by one. The symbol on each corresponded to a personality trait, which was described in the book we were given. In this area there was also space for a wooden maze game, which was extremely difficult to solve. Finally, we wrote on papyrus which had a strange texture and was the material that the Greeks would have used to record information on (or wax tablets) but it was expensive stuff, so they tended to miss out punctuation and write in continuous letters to avoid wasting space. I hope another opportunity for a workshop arises again this year. It was a great experience and, although we learned nothing of Greek grammar or vocabulary, we learned about Greek culture and civilisation, which is arguably equally difficult and as important as our classroom work. My thanks goes out to everyone who organised this workshop on behalf of the group too, especially to our instructor Tony. I know we all had fun and learnt something. James Budworth, Year 9


In Focus March 2013

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Black tipped shark

dives, rather he felt the prickles of sea urchins as he swam close to the rocks to which the were clinging. On completion of the course, Marcus was allowed to swim with sharks, though only in a tank at a sea-life centre in the resort. Marcus says the sharks he encountered there were harmless varieties - black tipped, white tipped and Angel sharks. In the same tank Marcus also saw two clown fish which, apparently, are very rare. He says he was very surprised that they were so small and that they are brightly coloured because their natural habitats are coral reefs. Is this another Jacques Cousteau in the making? We shall look forward to hearing about Marcus’s further diving adventures in future.

Clown fish

Whilst on holiday in Dubai over half-term, Marcus Angel shark Sambucci, Year 8, wasn’t content just to spend his days by the pool, so he decided to try the Scuba diving course on offer at the nearby PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) centre. He didn’t just stick with the basic course, however; instead over the 5 days he completed and passed the Junior Open Water Divers’ Course. This involved a series of five confined dives in a swimming pool, learning how to use the aqualung properly, and three open water dives. In addition, Marcus had to read and remember five chapters of the PADI Divers’ Manual for the written test.. The practical

Marcus in the tank

side tested Marcus’s diving techniques and he had to demonstrate that he had learnt the survival skills he had been taught. With his PADI certification, Marcus is now eligible to dive up to a depth of 18 metres. He said that, at first, it felt the most extraordinary thing to be able to breathe under water. He also explained that it is sometimes very difficult to see underwater debris, wash-up, currents and weather, and even scuffing up the sea-bed with an ill-judged flipper, can all affect visibility underwater. Marcus admitted didn’t see much during his open sea

White tipped shark

Congratulation to Mr Edmunds who has been appointed by the RFU to referee one of the U18 Daily Mail Cup Finals at Twickenham later this month. The annual rugby tournament for Schools finishes with a Finals Day on Saturday 23rd March. With over 1000 teams entering the competition at the start of the academic year, the main competition and vase competition finals are played out in front of a crowd of just under 10 000. This year is the first time the finals have been held on a Saturday. Mr Edmunds said “this is the fifth time I have officiated at Twickenham, but the first time I have refereed the U18 Schools Final. The refereeing is the easy part. In one of my recent visits I was appointed as timekeeper. This role involved being at the highest vantage point in the stadium operating the large stadium clock keeping time for the game and stopping and starting the clock on the instruction of the match referee. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to get this right whilst relaxing enjoying the game with a beer in your hand!” Mr Edmunds has been on the RFU National Panel of Referees for the last 15 years and is stepping down from this role at the end of this season. He said “ sadly I am now the oldest referee on the panel and it is time to let those younger than me take over.”


In Focus March 2013

The BS team won through to the Rotary Club’s District final of the 'Youth Speaks' competition, which was held at Theatre Clwyd on Friday 8 February, presenting Ben Appleby’s well -written and well-argued piece about the Internet. They did well and were placed 3rd overall. Each received certificates and a WH Smith voucher. Or to put it another way have we become too dependent on the internet? And are we enslaved to technology? [Introduction] To put it bluntly, I believe we’ve been enslaved to technology and have come to rely so heavily on the internet that our generation is in danger of being brought up by computers. Everyone is now able to get instant access to whatever they want, which has shortened people’s attention spans so they lose the ability to stick to a job. Video games provide entertainment but they come with draw backs. People have succumbed to the evils of social networking, believing the idle gossip on Twitter. And the internet gnaws away at one of our most precious modern resources, TIME. [Argument] Let me explain what I mean. Life has changed a lot from a couple of decades ago. Back then you had to go to a library and read a book and actually do a little bit work to find something out. But now all you need to do is type into Google what you’re looking for and, in a couple of seconds, an answer appears that might not even be correct. Because information is now so easy to access it has meant we don’t need to work hard to get this information e.g. trawling through a library. This has shortened our attention spans, so we lose our ability to stick at a job. The internet also allows you to copy and paste everything in an act of mass plagiarism; however, some or all of the content may be unverified. So you could be handing in a history homework that you didn’t write, might not have even read and is maybe completely incorrect. The art of research and writing down your assignment, leads to an understanding of the topic which cutting and pasting can never achieve. The internet is also a prevaricator’s heaven, if you are inclined to put off doing work or if you work from home, then what harm could a little surfing or checking your Facebook do? For those with weak willpower, an application has been developed to self-restrict your browsing time. You set the clock and feel very virtuous that you are not spending all day watching funny kitten videos on You Tube when there is real work to be done. Apparently, it is a big hit amongst home workers and authors who are trying to meet a deadline. I believe children of the next generation are already being brought up by computer games. There is a product called the Leapster, aimed at pre-school age, early learners and it is marketed as an ‘educational’ learning tool. But mostly children just use it for playing games. And would you want little children to learn by pressing buttons and not from real life experience? I now want to talk about video games. They offer the player, normally teenagers or kids quick and easy entertainment which often shortens their attention span and their tempers. Trust me, I’ve watched my 8 year old brother get extremely angry about something which isn’t important in the slightest and it actually

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worries me how angry he gets. All video games have a PEGI rating from age 3 to 18 years and they also show if a game contains violence, bad language or other inappropriate material. These ratings provide guidance not about how hard a game is, but how suitable they are for children. Most of the time people seem to disregard the guidelines. All of the kids I know at school play video games which are not in their age range. When we first discussed having the internet as our topic the subject of racism in football was all over the news. This issue was made even more controversial by indiscreet Tweets from premiership footballers. It seems to be a case of ‘tweet in haste and repent at leisure’. Their off-the-cuff comments on Twitter were given a microphone far more powerful than any television or newspaper broadcast and because their comments were instant, it was often their ‘tweets’ that made the news or the next day’s newspaper headlines. There have been other scandals where people have been wronging accused of dreadful crimes via Twitter; it’s almost a trial by Twitter. One such example involved Sally Bercow, the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons. She hinted, using her Twitter account, that Lord McAlpine was a paedophile but this accusation was completely unfounded. All these unwitting ‘tweeters’, including Mrs Bercow, are now facing legal action for their mistaken, slanderous words. [Conclusion] So the internet looks like it’s here to stay and it is an integral part of most people’s daily life. The internet is not all bad; it has brought good to many people’s lives. It can spread news quickly, there are some jewels of information just waiting for us to discover and if it hadn’t been for the internet and Facebook there would have never been an Arab spring. But on the subject of the internet stealing our time, I can speak from bitter personal experience: even when I was trying to write this speech, it was hard to resist the Siren song of online games, just waiting to entice me to spend a few minutes, which can oh so easily become a few hours of idle amusement, and is much less [cerebrally] demanding then actually doing any work. So my advice is to use your prize wisely, the internet is indeed a source of boundless information. We must learn to surf safely and pick out the true nuggets of knowledge from the endless drifts of dross. We must value our free time and give our attention only to those who deserve being listened to, otherwise we might risk becoming Facebook fools or Twitter twits! Ben Appleby, Yr 9

Photo L to R: Sam Keenan - Vote of thanks, Otto Dawes - Chair, and Ben Appleby - Speaker.


In Focus March 2013

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The theatre at Delphi

As a Greek-Cypriot who has never been to Greece, I believed that a week-long classics trip to Athens and its surrounding cities would be something I would easily relate to and have a passion for. However, this was severely questioned after a comment made by Mr Hopkins on one of my English Literature essays; “You old Puritan Nathan, where’s your Mediterranean passion?” With this in mind, we landed with a great sense of excitement at the home of Democracy… Athens. However, our arrival included a slight drizzle along with a chilly wind, accompanied by on-going riots in the capital which, unfortunately, we were not allowed to participate in, with the threat of being sent home, if we did.

hotel itself being positioned on the beach, not even I with my ancestral history dating back to the ‘300 Spartans’ could battle against the freezing cold sea. This was also due to our extremely busy schedule of visiting various ancient sites particularly in AcroCorinth, where we studied the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian artefacts and columns which dominated the various museums we visited. Plus, our knowledge of the Greek Gods vastly improved which was a crucial help, especially when taking Classics as an Alevel subject. However, many students who have not studied Classical Civilisation at any point still participated. One example was Aarush Sajjad, currently studying Chemistry, Biology and

In the ancient stadium at Olympia

Moreover, the visit to the cable car which, along with the Acropolis, has been undergoing reconstruction since the 1970s did not fulfil my expectations. However, the weather improved during our visit to the Parthenon, which is still the building most closely associated with Athens. Our visits to the Theatres of Epidaurus and Dionysus on the second and third day were thoroughly enjoyable and intellectually stimulating throughout, particularly having studied plays such as ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Antigone’, which were performed there thousands of years ago. This was enhanced further by Mr Smale, aka ‘The Knowledge Machine’, whose information regarding Ancient Greece is unrivalled. Other intellectual visits included the outdoor museum in Olympia, which involved an in-depth study of the Greek Gods and the temples that housed them. We also became heavily involved in a 200m sprint inside an ancient Olympic stadium, proposed by Mr Smale and graced by many would-be Olympians. This was immensely humorous for his sheer enthusiasm, as well as the intensity of the sprint, sparking the revival of his long-term hamstring injury three-quarters into the race and creating a noticeable limp for the remainder of the trip. Our final destination was Tolo and the Hotel Minoa. Despite the

Maths, who successfully duped his parents into believing that a classics trip to Greece would enhance his future career in medicine because it has its roots in Ancient Greece. Over all , th e C las sics trip broadened my knowledge of both Modern and Ancient Greece, which has enabled me to vigorously challenge the argument with my fellow students - that we Greeks single-handedly caused the downfall of the world economy. Despite this deluded opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Greece and strongly recommend this trip to all pupils. Nathan Demetrios, U6th Photo right: Modern Olympian aka Nathan Demetrios


In Focus March 2013

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One Sunday in the lead up to Christmas, five unicyclists still managed to cut quite a dash on the streets of Liverpool even when they joined a crowd of 8,000 other Santas on the annual Liverpool Santa Dash for charity. However, not many people were using this extraordinary mode of transport; indeed, the vast majority of Santas were on foot. Mr Guinness, Head of D&T, who began the BS Unicycle Club and led the Santa group, said it was great fun weaving their way in and amongst the crowds on the streets. For the skilled rider, unicycles are wonderfully manoeuvrable in a small space.

We’ve reached the turning. From here on out it’s an uphill trek over a path with a surface about as smooth and easy-going as the moon’s. On and on it goes, higher and higher, the sheer embankment blanketed in dusky purple heather running to the left of us seeming steeper and steeper the further we rock and bump along. To the right, the embankment rises up, littered with sheep chewing slowly and gazing blankly towards our struggling Land Rover as it drags itself over pothole after pothole. Outside, the strangled call of frantic grouse cuts through the steady hum of bleats and baas, the occasional low from disgruntled cattle. Inside, within leather and chrome interior, the husky vocals of Amy Macdonald and Paolo Nutini swell over folk guitar, narrating our journey with Caledonian lilt. Intertwined, a Scottish cornucopia. Suddenly, it’s apparent we have a battle for road space on our hands as a few brave, brainless sheep find themselves in the path of a two-and-a-half tonne mass of black metal and glass. There’s a standoff. The snarling car edges closer and closer in fits and starts towards the staring stock-still sheep. Five metres. Four metres. Three. Two. One. The sheep are away, scattered like clouds in a hurricane. Our journey resumes. Onwards. Upwards. The roads wind us around the hill, deeper into the grassland, moors and forests of Kilfinan, further from civilisation, closer to our promised haven. Our path is blocked once more. Something bigger, darker, heavier. A vast mass of burnt orange, long hair that omnipresent rain has tangled into waves and knots. Magnificent, sweeping horns swerve outwards from a head hung low, dragged down under its own weight. A Highland bull. The sheer size of the beast stuns us into

awed silence. We’re passive now; a tin can faced with living, breathing muscle and bone. We’re close enough to see the clouds of steamy breath billowing from flaring nostrils, glimpse black eyes from under a rug of shaggy auburn hair. Had we had the thought or courage to wind down a window we would have heard the rumbling timbres of grunts and growls echoing from deep in his broad chest. We wait. He watches. Minutes pass as we sit admiring him, his majesty. Finally he turns, his huge frame carried by stocky legs to the side of the sloped path. Here he resumes his stance, standing strong with steady calm. As the car stumbles past, his eyes follow, and for a fraction of a moment the glass, the metal and machinery fall away and there is nothing separating us- man and beast, eye to eye. We drive on. The view on our left is changing. What was earlier an open view, a seemingly infinite horizon of dark, hazy hills behind a scattered patchwork of fields drenched diluted sunlight, mossy greens and golden browns in haphazard arrangement, had now disappeared. The ground to either side has levelled and now a forest surrounds us, armies of trees looming above us. The path is narrowing, the turns tightening. The remnants of the sundown have trickled away, replaced with a navy sky blotted by dark charcoal clouds spitting half-hearted drizzle. Looking ahead, through the trees, we can see the first flickers of amber light that tells us we’re nearly home. A cautious left turn and we’re off the treacherous path that brought us this far and over a bridge that takes us into the grounds of our new home for the next week or so. In the gathering darkness, the car glares white light at stone walls, the ruins of a settlement from another time, another world, throwing shadows in every direction. Past the silent ruins and all at once there it is, a great white house, a country palace, looming above us. All around, nothing but endless dark fields. Amber light pours from every window, welcoming and warm. The car slows to a stop and everyone is out into the frigid, silent air. We walk up to the door, ready to get inside, get home. Suddenly our eyes are caught. Something white and wild, flashing against the deep dark sky. An owl, a pure white owl, sweeps across the sky. We watch it float higher and higher, disappearing into the night. Sally Boffey, L6th The ‘Acharrossan’ piece was selected by Liverpool Athenaeum Literary Competition to be put forward for their ‘Writer in Residence’ Award. 51 boys and girls representing 14 schools across Merseyside entered. The Competition is supported by Liverpool Post, Radio Merseyside, Liverpool City Council and The English Speaking Union. Sally was presented with a beautifully framed certificate.


In Focus March 2013

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“Well, that went pretty well didn’t it?” The above statement from the director of the show, Adam Wells, could well be classed as understatement of the month. The play “The Infant” was written by Oliver Lansley and showcased some of the best acting that Birkenhead School has to offer, courtesy of the small, but no less incredible cast, made up of Siân Round, Alex Karus-McElvogue, Nick Gill and Greg Young. It is a dark comedy, about two detectives, as, in a fictional reimagining of Britain under a totalitarian and secret police-based regime, a man (Greg Young) is brought in for questioning concerning a picture found in his house which threatens to bring down the government and to end society as they know it. The man insists that he is innocent and that the picture was drawn by his four-year old son (voiced by Sebastien Wilkes). His wife (Siân Round), meanwhile, is convinced that their child could not have drawn the picture. Who is telling the truth? What is the truth? And does the truth even matter? As Castigan (Alex Karus-McElvogue) and Samedi (Nick Gill) desperately try to uncover the truth, the audience is taken on a rip-roaring, laugh-out-loud journey, in which nothing is what it seems. The Infant was an exciting new venture for Birkenhead School because it the first play that has ever been submitted by the School for consideration buy the prestigious National Student Drama Festival. Overall the play was a great success, receiving positive comments from all who came to see it. I would say it went far more than “pretty well”, I might even go as far to say that it was one of the best student performances that I have ever seen! Congratulations and thanks to all involved on stage and to those who were backstage and out of sight, including Chris Morris (Producer and Technical Manager), Caroline Welsh (Stage Manager), Katie Laing (Hair and Makeup Artist) and Becky Davies (Publicity). Rebecca Davies, L6th

Jack in action at the championship and with his instructor Mr Tony Littlejohns. It was a long and frustrating wait for the beginning of the Black Belt sparring competition. After over a thousand or more junior rounds, the most experienced fighters were called forward to battle it out for the coveted title of British Tae Kwon Do Champion. Nervousness had to be quickly conquered as Jack Smith, a Year 10 student, was called first for a bout against a second degree martial artist. After an epic first round, in which no clear winner could be determined, the fight was extended into extra time - not once, but twice. Through flying kicks to the head and chest and crunching punches coming from all angles, Jack finally won through with a powerful kick to the pelvis. Already exhausted, Jack passed through to the next round. His next fight was similarly intense, but this time the outcome was not in doubt - a win to Jack. With little or no time for recovery, the competitors were being quickly whittled down and Jack soon found himself in the semi final. Both opponents were clearly feeling the effects of earlier bouts as legs and arms began to weigh heavy for the battling fighters. Yet again, it was only after extra time that a winner could be named but this time it was Jack whose arms remained by his side, as the glove of the eventual gold winning champion was raised. However, Jack didn't feel too disappointed. After practising his sport for 10 years, he was now the proud owner of a British Championship bronze medal. Jack was further honoured this week, when he was awarded student of the year by his Taekwondo school. D Smith


In Focus March 2013

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The squad about to set off!

After a year of planning and preparation, the 1 st and 2nd X1 hockey the Chapman family, who were on holiday in East London, was teams set off for their tour of South Africa, with a tough schedule most welcome. of 16 games (8 per team) to be played over the next two weeks. After leaving Stirling High School the following morning, we had This was the fourth time the senior Hockey arranged a visit to Mpongo Private Game teams have toured South Africa in the last 16 Reserve. Here the boys got up close to a years. Rhino which was 10 metres from the coach The squad was captained by James Knight blocking our route. We also spied a hippo in (circled in photo above). As the squad set off, the water 15 metres away and got even closer 2nd team goalkeeper Rob Chapman (see insert to some 3-month old lion cubs. The above) was already acclimatising to the altitude, photographs, like many of the things we saw, having arrived a week earlier with his parents do not do justice to the experience! for a family holiday. Our next game against Cambridge High After enduring the tedium usual on long haul School was played on an Astro Turf just flights and transfers, the team arrived on a outside the local Township on a wet, windy beautiful sunny day in East London, South Africa. and chilly day. Our preparations for the match We were met by Craig Goodenough, our Tour did not go as we would have liked as Olly Mills operator from Bundu Bashers Travel, who have ran headlong into a gate during his pre-match looked after us for the last three tours to South warm up (the photograph does not reveal Africa. After an afternoon spent shopping, we how stupid he felt!). Cambridge were a wellmade our way to Stirling High School, our hosts drilled and very fit side, consisting mostly of for two nights. The following day gave us the Township boys who really did play a fastHungry Hippo opportunity to practise for a few hours on their paced game. The 1st X1 lost 3-0 and the 2nd Astro Turf, under the watchful eye of some X1 drew 2-2, with goals from Josh Bramwell Stirling HS students who came out and Michael Smith. to cast an eye over the opposition. Saturday came as a The afternoon was spent at the welcome break from beach learning to surf in the hockey; the team headed Indian Ocean, sand-surfing down off for an overnight stay the steep dunes and even a bit of at the Kareiga Game snorkelling. Whilst it was sunny Reserve. This proved to and warm on the beach, it was be one of the highlights of winter in South Africa and the the tour. There were ocean was extremely cold. close encounters with That evening saw our first African wildlife during the matches and, like all the teams we game drives on Saturday would come up against, none of afternoon and early the games were going to be easy. Sunday morning. The The 1st X1 lost 2-1, with our goal superb chalet lodges also from James Knight, and the 2nd X1 provided a good Olly incognito drew 1-1, with the goal from Ian Surfing in the Indian Ocean opportunity to relax and Loch. Support in the stands from enjoy the great facilities


In Focus March 2013 and open log fires. Looking at the tired faces next morning, some had clearly continued ’relaxing’ into the early hours! Sunday was a short transfer to Kingswood College in Grahamstown. This was a School we had played on the 2009 tour and which we feared would be one of our strongest opponents. The 1st X1 lost 30 and the 2nd X1 lost 4-3 in a really close fought game, with goals from Olly Mills (2) and Luke Weller. Team moral was a little low at this point - we had now played six games and not managed a win. Schoolboy hockey in South Africa is of a high standard. After our post-match barbeque at Kingswood, we headed back to our conference centre at Makana where even a team beer did not help boost moral! Next morning, we headed off to Port Elizabeth to meet up with Mr Clark and to transfer to Woodridge College, which would be our third visit in the last 6 years. Woodridge is a boarding school on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. Their hockey has improved each time we have visited them and they now have their own Astro Turf with outstanding views of the local mountains. Having beaten them on our last tours, we knew there was a chance to get a win for both teams. Sadly, this was not to be the case. The 1st X1 lost 4-3, in a close game with 2 goals from James Knight and one from Andrew White who, though he came off the field covered in blood, was none the worse for it and is to be commended for his hard work and determination to try to win the game. The 2 nd X1 lost 2-1, with a

goal from Olly Mills. Oliver Gilding’s father and grandfather, who had kindly provided sponsored shirts for the tour, were at the game to lend support.

Page 19 Bruno de Blaquière all jumped. Madness, but great fun to do, and even better fun to watch! Our accommodation that evening on the banks of the ocean at Tsitsikamma National Park was stunning. A team meal, a few beers and the fact we had not won a match yet seemed to drift from our thoughts. The next day we headed from Tsitsikamma to Kynsna for a sedate trip on the Lagoon to the Two Heads of Kynsna, a dangerous inlet from the ocean. Well, the cruise was sedate on the outward journey but less so on the return. Andrew White was given control of the boat and opened full throttle…… A very wet Andrew White what goes on on ‘captains’ the boat tour stays on tour! Following an enjoyable lunch, we headed on to the large town of George to meet our hosts from Glenwood House School. Glenwood is a relatively new School - it was founded 6 years ago - but already has 600 pupils. Before our scheduled afternoon match, we set off early for a whale watching trip off the coast of Mossel Bay. We were rewarded for our early rise with a close-up of some Southern Right Whales at play just off the coast. Trying to photograph them was not easy, as you can see! The games against Glenwood were played at the Astro Turf of neighbouring York High School and both teams secured their first wins of the tour. The 1st X1 won 4-1, with goals from James Knight, Olly Mills, Andrew White and Tom Beaumont. The 2 nd X1 won 5-2 with goals from Olly Mills, Luke Weller and three from Alex Davies who was making an unusual appearance up front, rather than in goal. Following the game, we headed to Oudtshoorn for a visit to the Cango Caves with an overnight stay at a hotel, a team meal and a few drinks to be ready for an early morning

Whale watching

We were almost midway through the tour and the next day set off for the start of our meander along the scenic Garden Route towards Cape Town. Most of the squad had fun on a high wire zip-line experience across a gorge near Tsitsikamma. We all watched as “The Magnificent Seven” got kitted up for their bungee jump from the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee jump in the world at 216 metres. You have to see it to believe it! Andrew White, Josh Bramwell, Ian Loch, Alex Davies, Oliver George, Tom Beaumont and

departure heading for Stellenbosch. We incorporated a quick visit to an Ostrich Farm where a few brave students rode the ostriches - not an easy thing to do! Our drive to Stellenbosch was to play our next matches against Bridge House School, whom we had beaten twice on previous tours. This encounter did not go to plan because, after arriving late, the games had to be significantly shortened. Fortunately, even after a four-hour drive and going straight


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onto the pitch at the end of it, the 1st X1 won 3-1, with goals from Jack Granby, Olly Mills and Tom Beaumont, and the 2nd X1 drew 1-1 with a goal from Luke Weller (who damaged his shoulder in the game). Our Sponsors from Trucape South Africa watched the games with our team playing in their bright orange kit, displaying their business logo. An early morning departure from Bridge House School saw the squad heading for Cape Town on the final leg of the tour. Our first day in Cape Town gave us the opportunity to tour Green Point Stadium, a new football stadium used for the soccer world cup in 2010 and take a trip to

Life in Langa Township

Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent nearly 20 years in harsh prison conditions. The evening was spent enjoying some good food at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Our Sunday morning we visited Langa Township. This was an extraordinary experience for our students who were given a guided tour and saw first-hand the lifestyle of those living in a township. The squad visited a house and an art studio. They were entertained and given lunch. It was the most welcoming of places. The matches against the Township teams saw the 1st X1 draw 3-3, with goals James Knight, Alex Barria-Norton and Tom Beaumont, and the 2 nd X1 win 5-0 with two goals from Michael Smith and Luke Weller and one from Ben Hughes. The Township side played in a new kit provided by a non-uniform day held at School earlier in the year. Our penultimate day was spent on a tour down to Cape Point, Boulders Beach and Hout Bay arguably the most scenic part of the Cape Peninsula - prior to meeting our last hosts at


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Edgemead High School. Both our Hockey and Rugby teams have played against their teams on previous visits to South Africa. At this stage of the tour, a number of players were extremely tired and a few injuries had caught up with us. Despite working hard, the 1st X1 lost 3-2, with goals from Olly Mills and James Knight, and the 2nd X1 won 3-0, with goals from Luke Weller. On our final day in Cape Town our scheduled trip up Table Mountain was cancelled because the cable car had to be closed due to the windy conditions. We enjoyed some last minute shopping instead before the long journey back to School. Despite losing more matches than we would have liked, the trip as a great success and many thank are due to those who helped support the tour - the Ladies Committee, Parents’ Association, parents, local businesses and friends of the School. The experience will live long in the memories of the boys who took part. D R. Edmunds, Deputy Headmaster

RESULTS 2012 4th BERESFORD G Sudderick 25 E Bainbridge 23 T Dodds 21 3rd BIDSTON D Knight 31 C Way 31 J Black 13 2nd SHREWSBURY D Quinn 26 A Karus-McElvogue 28 1st KINGSMEAD J Walsh 33 G. Kirkby 24 Overall average Individual winner

Ave 23 pts

Ave 25 pts Ave 27 pts Ave 28.5 pts

25.5 pts Joe Walsh 33pts

1st XV v Langa Township

Advanced Tutorials continue for the 5 th year, helping students reach their full potential in the Sixth Form and beyond. The Advanced Tutorial Groups are for those students who are aiming for highly competitive universities and courses, providing advice and information on how to make the Personal Statement in particular and university applications in general, the best they can be. With mock university interviews, extra projects related to chosen subjects and relevant book lists all provided, the Advanced Tutorial Groups (or the ATG as the ‘cool kids’ are calling it) are every dedicated pupil’s dream. The groups are designed to enhance the students’ chances of being accepted at top universities and on competitive courses, and so it is necessary that their true passion for the subject comes through and that they can reach beyond their subject’s ‘exam specs’. There are two different groups, and each is led by two very experienced members of staff; Arts students (with some ‘hybrids’!) are tutored by Mr Hopkins and Mr Smale, whereas Science students are tutored by Mr Britton and Mr Armstrong this year. Advanced Tutorial groups have a brilliant success rate within the School, and even if pupils do not reach their preferred university, ATG allows them to explore their passion further and enjoy themselves whilst they’re about it! Amy Naylor and Rebecca Davies (L6th)


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In Focus March 2013

Year 10’s atmospheric landscape studies from preparatory art work done at Thurstaston. Students took photos and made preliminary sketches on site which they developed in their lessons. Year 10 art students also visited Tate Liverpool’s ‘Turner, Monet and Twombly’ exhibition to help them get ideas about how to be more expressive and create mood and atmosphere in their work. E. Wilday

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The Parents’ Association is continuing to work together to organise events for Pupils, Parents and friends. Our aim is to enhance the community of the School with social events and use any funds raised to buy those little extras that can make a difference. Events held in 2012. Discos for pupils Years 3 to Year 6. Prep Uniform Sale held in April and at the Bazaar. These are very well organised and parents welcome the opportunity to buy Uniform, most of which is in excellent condition and at much reduced prices. We are hoping to extend the service to include good quality Senior School Uniform and will write to Parents with details of this. Bonfire Night. Christmas Bazaar The Diamond Bazaar was organised in partnership with the 20th Birkenhead Scouts on 17th November. We were delighted to see many new & enthusiastic helpers and hope that they will continue to help next year. The Bazaar was well attended and was our biggest fundraiser for 2012 Pampered Chef held a Pampered Chef cookery demonstration in the Mac Field Pavilion in June Peel 2 Save Vouchers These were sold across school during March and were well received by those who bought them. Everybody agreed that it was very easy to recover the initial price of the card by using just one saving sticker. Items bought in 2012 Funds raised by the Parents’ Association are used to purchase items across the entire school from Prep to Sixth Form and we try hard to buy a mix of items across the curriculum.

Bazaar Raffle In 2012 we have contributed to the following items: Baritone Sax Stand for Big Band; 3 Large Unicycles; Green house for Prep Gardening Club Equipment for Prep Playground (Little School) Lego Mindstorms for DT department TV screen for Overdale Contribution for the Hockey Tour Shirts We held our AGM in January were delighted to welcome some new faces and sorry to see some of our team step down due to other commitments. We have already been busy planning events for the coming months. The dates are listed below for your diary and we will send full details out in due course. Our next meeting is on 22 April 2013 in the Meeting Room above Senior School Library. We would be delighted if you could join us to share your ideas. Alternatively you can email (ddurband@btinternet.com) me to share any ideas you may have. Denise Durband PA Chair

Friday 22 March

Prep Uniform Sale

3:30pm Prep Gym

Friday 26th April

Drop in Coffee Morning

Mac Pavilion 8:30am - 10:30am

Thursday 13th June

Ladies Evening

Mac Pavilion 7:30pm

Friday 4th October

TBC

7:30pm

Staff and parents took part recently in a golf match v pupils for the Danny Garforth (a former BS Bursar) trophy at Caldy Golf Club. The staff/Parents team were the winners with best scores from R Parkinson and G Edwards. Results: R Parkinson 35 Ave. 29.9 points G Bainbridge 26 S Fay 28 If any parent, or G Edwards 35 even grandparent, K Quinn 27 would like to take G Sudderick 30 part in this Y Sudderick 30 wonderful event, C Black 27 please contact: S Kirkby 30 J McGrath at J McGrath 31 School. R Rule 30

Photo l to r: Clive Black, Sean Kirkby, Karl Quinn, Graham Sudderick, Graham Edwards, Stuart Fay, Rupert Rule, Yvonne Sudderick, Jim McGrath, Gill Bainbridge and Richard Parkinson.


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The Boys’ Hockey Wirral Cup Final was held at Calday GS. Birkenhead School’s U14 (with some members from the U13 team) played against Calday for the cup. The 13th annual Target Two Point Zero - the Bank of England and The Times Interest Rate Challenge - got underway, with 295 teams from across the United Kingdom competing for the Challenge Trophy and £10,000 for their school or college. Birkenhead School’s Target 2.0 team won their regional heats held at EA Technology, Chester, taking them through to the North of England final held in February, with the National Final being held in March at the Bank of England. The U6th team, consisting of Charles McCulloch, Nick Gill, Ashley Williams and Tom Woollons (who stepped in for original team member, Alastair Forster, who had fallen ill just days before the competition) recommended an interest rate of 0.5% compared with the Bank of England’s official rate of 0.5% set by the Monetary Policy Committee on 8 November 2012. They also recommended a total of £375bn of asset purchases under the Asset Purchase Facility, compared with the £375bn agreed by the MPC on 8 November 2012. During the 43 regional heats, teams of four students, aged 16 to 18, analysed UK and global economic data and their possible impact on inflation and the economic outlook for the UK - just as the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee does each month. The teams then decided whether current monetary policy is appropriate or needs to be adjusted to meet the 2.0 per cent inflation target set by the Government. In a presentation to a panel of Bank of England judges, the team explained their decision and then justified it through their answers to questions from the panel. The chair of the judging panel, Neil Ashbridge, said “I have been a judge in this competition for over 12 years, and I can honestly say that I have been impressed by the standard of this year’s presentations.” BS beat Yale College, Wrexham, who were runners-up, Calday Grange Grammar School, Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School, Rydal Penrhos School, Sale Grammar School and Wirral Grammar School for Boys. Unfortunately, the team lost out in the North of England Final and did not secure one of the top three places to go forward to the National Final. However, they learned a lot through taking part in the competition and were a credit to the School. R Rule, Head of Economics

The U14 hockey squad has continued where it left off last year, comprising a group of highly dedicated, enthusiastic and determined individuals. Competition for places on the team has been high and, once again, everyone has shown maturity in the selection policy. With the squad being a combination of Year 8 and 9 pupils, there is a mixture of both ability and size. They have gelled well and progressed as a group. For the first time in several years, they reached the Wirral Cup Final, where they were unfortunately beaten by Calday Grange GS. However, this entitled them to progress to the Northwest Finals. Being grouped with two of the strongest schools in the North of England was always going to be a challenge. Nerves got the better of them in the first two games, narrowly losing 2-0 to Rossall and 1-0 to Altrincham Grammar. In the final game, the players performed to the standard they had set all year and comfortably beat Windermere 4-1. It was a fantastic experience for all involved, and an opportunity for some boys to experience tournament hockey for the first time. Thanks to all parents who turned up to support, and special thanks to Ed Thomas for umpiring. We will be back !!!! A Aldred, Hockey Coach

In the 45th International Chemistry Olympiad 2013, run by the Royal Society of Chemistry, two BS students submitted papers. Congratulations to Harry Sturgess (below left), who was awarded Gold and Jonathan Welsh (below right), who gained Silver in the UK Round 1 of the competition. These awards denote a very high standard of achievement.


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At the end of last year, Reception took part in Children in Need. We came dressed in something spotty and in the afternoon we took part in a Scooterthon. In teams we had to complete 4 laps of the course on a scooter. We had great fun taking part and raising money for such a good cause. JQ Mayers

Kian Husseyn, Year 3, was recently awarded the Stableford Shield by the Post Sunlight Golf Society. Having had golf lessons for the past year, Kian has been practising hard and, during a closely fought “chipping” competition, was finally the worthy winner. As this is the final year of the competition, Kian is delighted to be able to keep the shield. Mrs V Belchier

The Beyond the Curriculum Science group did a workshop at Avalon School recently. They amazed the children with the pops and bangs and left Avalon still stan din g. No wonder the BtC Science group’s f(l)ame is spreading!


In Focus March 2013

Steve Parry is our Head of Year 10 and is also the School Assessment Manager. He is undertaking a charity sea kayaking challenge to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust. Steve and his family have lived on the Wirral for three generations and his father, Dr Gareth Parry, passed away in May 2012 after a 6year illness. During his long working career in West Kirby, Dr Parry was also the voluntary lifeboat doctor for Hoylake and West Kirby crews over a 25 year period. In 2012 he was awarded the Gold Medallion for service to the RNLI although he was not well enough to receive this great honour in person. After losing his father, Steve Parry decided that he wanted to undertake a charitable challenge to raise ÂŁ4000 by sea kayaking the gruelling 30 miles from the lifeboat station in Llandudno along the Welsh coast and ending at the Hoylake lifeboat station on the Wirral. To make this challenge even more impressive Steve had an operation on his back 9 years ago and his first time in a sea kayak was in November 2012.

Diary of a Sea Kayaker Since losing my Dad last year, I have found life pretty hard going. The impact of losing someone that you are so close to is something that you never get over or indeed should feel that you

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have to but, to help me focus on the positive things in life, I decided that I would set myself a challenge to raise ÂŁ2000 for the RNLI and ÂŁ2000 for the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust. My father supported the RNLI during his life by being the doctor to the Hoylake and West Kirby crews and he was also on stand-by in case there was ever a need to have a doctor on board during any of the emergency call outs. My father had volunteered these services for almost 26 years and as a result he was awarded the gold medallion for length of service early in 2012 which is something that he was extremely proud of. In 2006 he was diagnosed with Myeloma and during his illness the doctors used the skills and medical techniques that the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust have developed: I have also been on their donor register since my Grandmother died from Leukaemia when I was a teenager. They are a fantastic charity and save lives every day by matching voluntary donors with patients suffering from a wide range of blood disorders. In November 2012, I and Steve Guinness (Head of Design and Technology) went to Anglesey to do a sea kayak course with Adventure Elements. We arrived on Anglesey early in the morning and only had a short wait before James Stevenson from Adventure Elements arrived in his van. His happy demeanour calmed us both instantly and the fun was soon to begin. We got down to business with some excellent background teaching from James. Tidal information and kit details were coming thick and fast. The boats looked huge, 17 and a half foot to be exact, much bigger than anything I'd ever seen before. We loaded up the van and headed across the island to Moelfre on the east coast. We kitted up and got down to the waters edge. Within minutes we were on the water. I was extremely glad that the sea was so calm as it was going to make things a lot easier for a couple of novices on our first sea kayaking outing. Once on the water I was amazed at how wobbly everything felt. I was twitching like mad to keep things level and the immensity of the challenge that I had set myself was starting to sink in. After a quick introduction on the water from James and a


In Focus March 2013 bit of forward paddling technique we were off along the coast. I was amazed at how quickly we settled into moving the boats around; I think it was all down to the expert tuition of James and not any in built skill on our part. As we headed along the coast the lifeboat siren sounded, I took this as a sign of approval to my challenge to raise money for the RNLI but there was a full launch of the lifeboat and it sped off around to the North end of Anglesey. I hope no one was in serious danger. We carried on heading South East and stopping in the bays as we went for pointers on technique and balance. I loved it and felt at home on the water. There is something special about powering yourself along and that feeling of being on the sea, looking back at the land. I felt like I had left all my daily stresses and strains behind, it was simply magical. As we approached lunchtime, Steve Guinness started looking a bit grey as he was feeling a bit worse for wear. The undulating tide had not done him any favours so we headed back in so that he could have a bit of time to recover by the van. James and I headed back out past the lifeboat station and around a small island to have a play in the tide. It was very exciting

Page 28 company called Peak UK I have also managed to get some discount kit to wear in the boat, so I am good to go and will be out and about on the water training as much as possible over the coming months. I have set up a web blog at: www.charitypaddler.co.uk I also have a Just Giving site at: www.justgiving.com/teams/charitypaddler If you would like to follow my progress or would like to sponsor one of my causes, I would be extremely grateful. It is also possible to text a donation to one of my 2 charities if you would like to support me on my challenge. If you text the code:

CHPA88 £5 or CHPA88 £10 To 70070 you can donate to my RNLI target

If you text the code:

CHPA99 £5 or CHPA99 £10 To 70070 you can donate to my Anthony Nolan target

and with some waves to contend with I could see this was getting to be very addictive. I was grinning from ear to ear although starting to feel quite worn out. Lots of trunk rotations and paddling was starting to show that my swimming and press ups preparation was no match for the effort needed for kayak fitness. As we came back into the bay at the end of a great day we were greeted by a beautiful rainbow which Steve Guinness managed to snap on his phone. What a way to end the day! The next morning the planning could begin. I needed a boat, a set of paddles and some kit. I had been given some contacts by James from Adventure Elements and quickly managed to source a boat on long term loan from Liz at P&H Sea Kayaks in Runcorn. They manufacture plastic and composite boats that are truly stunning in design and visual appearance. I was also put in touch with Lance Mitchell who runs a family business in Chester called Mitchell Blades. After a few emails and phone calls I met up with Lance and he has made me a custom set of carbon fibre paddles. They are truly exquisite in design and are as light as a feather too which will make life a bit easier when I am out paddling. I quickly realised that the kayaking world is a very friendly place with people bending over backwards to help me out. After a bit of grovelling with a

Please remember that Birkenhead School is a DOG-FREE CAMPUS. Sometimes, however, parents do accompany their dogs to watch sports matches at Mac Field and Noctorum Field over the weekend. If your dog does enjoy coming to the odd sports fixture, please ensure any of its deposits are scooped up and taken away with you . Thank you.


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At the end of 2012, with some reluctance, we allowed Clive Button, our Bursar for more than twelve years, to retire. He joined us in 2000 from a career with British Nuclear Fuels and bravely offered to bring his business experience to bear on the challenges of an independent school. From the start he has supported the Governors and guided the Headmaster to keep their eyes on the strategic issues for the business of the School – indeed, within weeks of his arrival, he was writing memoranda to the then Chairman highlighting things which needed guidance from the top! Clive has a passion for older cars – a recent issue of In Focus told of Clive’s Pride and Joy - his 75-year old Wolseley which once belonged to Lord Nuffield. Last summer, Clive went on a fund raising tour to help the National Trust in its fundraising for Nuffield Place, a recently acquired property and once the home of Lord Nuffield.

one of his adventures in his Wolseley – and he set to work to ‘tune the engine’ of Birkenhead School so that we kept cash flow under control and could plan for a succession of capital projects. In addition to seeing through a rationalisation of the School’s legal structure, he oversaw the sale of land in the northeast corner of the site and, amongst other things, the building of Little School, the upgrade of the class rooms in Big School, the modernisation of the McAllester building, the Sixth Form Centre and the pavilion at Mac Field as well as the construction of the new classrooms of the Prep Extension and the installation of the photovoltaic array on the Sports Hall roof. The Bursar has direct responsibility for the estate, for catering and for the finance and administration in the School. Clive has worked closely with his lieutenants who lead these vital departments. A smart and safe Sports Hall roof solar panel array campus does not look after itself, lunch does not appear from nowhere and bills, bursaries and contracts certainly need professional supervision. Clive watched over all his empire with an engaging style and a quiet competence which we will miss. Over time Clive ventured over the line into some quasi-academic duties. He enjoyed running regular courses for Year 7s on useful aspects of social etiquette and good manners; his Business Clubs for

the Lower Sixth explored business administration, executed small commercial ventures and had contact with the ‘outside world’ and later developed into the Bursar’s Apprentice. We are most grateful to him for his many contributions to the School and particularly for leaving the business stable and without debt – ready to plan for the next phase of its development. Knowing that he wanted to take up bee-keeping, the governors presented Clive with a new hive and all sorts of equipment to The Headmaster straps Mr start him off – and await Button into his new an invitation to taste an beekeeper’s kit. early bottle of honey from the Button-bees. Clive was keen to have completed the handover to his successor by the end of 2012 as he knew that his next career was imminent. Indeed, as with many of his projects, the timing was perfect and his and Debbie’s first grandchild, Wilfred, arrived on 1 January to initiate a new and rewarding phase in their services to the next generation. Grandpa and grandson Andrew Sutton, Chair of Governors


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On a cold but dry day, the senior rugby squad gathered at McAllester Field in anticipation of the eagerly awaited House Sevens competition. Shrewsbury were the bookies’ favourites and began strongly with a victory over Beresford. Kingsmead made hard work of beating Bidston, eventually winning 34 – 14. In the second round of matches Shrewsbury made short work of Bidston, winning 47 – 0, and Kingsmead also beat Beresford. So Beresford and Bidston played off for third place and in a very competitive match Bidston beat Beresford, who struggled, having lost their paceman Alex Watkins early on in the competition. The final brought together the two unbeaten teams but Shrewsbury were just too strong for Kingsmead and took the trophy with an impressive victory. Many thanks to Mr Rule and Mr Hayward for their sterling efforts with the whistle and to the small crowd that turned up to watch. D Hendry, i/c 1st XV

Cub Scouts from Birkenhead, Meols and Hoylake, with parents in tow, attended Birkenhead School recently to work towards their Science badges. BS students from the 6th Form Beyond the Curriculum Science Research Group, the Solar Group and Junior Science Club helped the cubs who have to complete 6 activities from a range of scientific experiments. For example, they must be able to demonstrate that hot air rises, or recover dissolved substances from a water solution, or identify constellations or perhaps set up and observe a wormery. The session was great fun and it was good to see everyone working together. M Hayward, Head of Science


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On 5 February, our U10 and U11 athletic teams made their way to Robin Park in Wigan. It seemed a long journey but we finally arrived ready to race and try to win some medals. There were approximately 30 schools there that we would be competing against. Our events started off with Block One, the U10 girls’ field events and the U11 boys’ track events. The field events were made up of: the balance, vertical jump, speed bounce, long jump, triple jump, javelin and chest push. The track events consisted of one- lap and three-lap races. Shortly following these events, we moved onto Block Two, the U10 boys’ field events and the U11 girls’ track events. The results from the first block were then announced, and we won two medals. Matthew Diaz-Rainey won the U10 boys’ speed bounce, breaking the record from last year, and Jaime Stanton gained third place in the U11 girls’ one-lap. We still had two more blocks to go, with the opportunity to win more medals, but we couldn’t have done it without having our lunch first. After this energy boost, we carried on with Block Three, the U10 girls’ track events and the U11 boys’ field events. Following on from these events, we moved smoothly onto the final block, the U10 boys’ track events and the U11 girls’ field events. To finish the day’s athletic activities, there were the U10 and U11 boys’ and girls’ obstacle relays and the parlauf race.

Our day was now almost over but we still had to keep our heads up and remain focused because the results for the afternoon were yet to be announced and we were full of anticipation and excitement. In the U10 girls’ track events, Abi Saverimutto was first and broke the record in the one-lap race and Emmelline Barry came third in the three-lap race. Unfortunately, the U10 boys didn’t win any individual medals in the track events but, with a display of great determination, managed to take 3rd place in the obstacle relay. The successful members of the team were Matthew Diaz-Rainey, Luca Infante, Samarth Kumar and Timur Alcock. In the U11 girls’ field events, we gathered two more medals. Molly Rogerson-Bevan took third place in the soft javelin and Jaime Stanton came first, breaking last year’s record, in the chest push. Just as successful as the girls, the U11 boys won two medals in their field events. Adam Dutton came third in the chest push and Miles Morton came first in the vertical jump,, breaking last year’s record. All in all we had a fantastic day. We had four first places, all gaining records in the process, and came home with nine medals overall. A very well done to everyone who took part. We had an amazing day and on behalf of the athletics team, I would like to thank Mr Corran for making this event possible and also Mr Stockdale for helping us get there and supporting us. Jaime Stanton, 6H

Birkenhead School thanks all those involved on the committees and in the organisation of the former School Bus Clubs for their dedication and hard work. For many, many years they were responsible for organising the transport of children from all areas of Wirral to both Birkenhead School and Birkenhead High School. Since the latter became an Academy and alternative transport arranged, the Bus Clubs have been wound up. The Bus Club Committee decided to donate half of the Bus Club’s operational funds (over £7,500) to the School to help with its transport costs. This will be a tremendous boost when BS needs to purchase a new minibus and the School is most grateful.


In Focus March 2013

On Friday and Saturday, 1 and 2 March, competitors from BPS took part in the Wirral Festival of Music, Speech and Drama. Competitions everyone took part in were: Sight reading, Prose reading, Character study, and Poem and Bible reading. The adjudicators all had different views on how the set pieces should be performed. Everyone tried their hardest and some won trophies, including: Harrison Brodbelt in Year 2 for his Prose reading and Poetry reading; Shannon High for Year 4 Bible reading; Ted Ford, Year 5 Bible reading; Grace Harvey, Year 5 Prose reading; and Shuban Kumar for Year 4 Prose reading. We would like to thank our drama teacher, Mrs Gwynn, for all the teaching and support she gave us and we would also like to thank all the competitors for taking part. We think that the whole competition was a great success. Grace Harvey and Jessica Brodbelt, Yr 5

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Photo above: Back Row L to R: Adam Aly 4R, Emmeline Barry 5B, Grace Harvey 5C, Jessica Brodbelt 5C, Edward Ford 5C 2nd row from back L to R: Shannon High 4C, Shuban Kumar 4W, Aoife Moore 4C, Freya Hannan-Mills 4C, Cerys Evans 5B 3rd row from back L to R: Eoin Moore 2A, Nathaniel Ford 2A, Ethan Brown 2H, Oliver Brennan 3B, Suzy Aly 3B Front row L to R: Jacob Williams 2M, Hayden Collins 2A, Luca Dawson 2M, Harrison Brodbelt 2H

After a very good season, with the only disappointment being the number of games cancelled due to the weather, the 1st XV approached their Cheshire Cup semi-final with real confidence but also respect for the opposition, Lymm, last year’s runners-up. We kicked off on a beautiful sunny day but after a brisk start Lymm scored under the posts. After this, we put our heads down and took control of the game and the ball, and after 20 minutes we were 17 – 7 up, with tries from Walker, Crosby, and Maddox. Then came a period of heroic defence, as Lymm pounded away on our try line, until the referee blew his whistle for half-time. A low scoring second half, dominated by defence, saw Lymm score wide out, to take a 19 – 17 lead. A penalty by Crosby put us back in front 20 – 19, with only 13 minutes left. Lymm had looked dangerous every time their backs got the ball and they could quickly turn defence into attack. It was after some fine handling that they scored another try to take a 24 – 20 lead. However, the School picked themselves up and attacked from their own tryline. Two minutes later, with full-time nearly up, Patrick Cannon wriggled over the tryline at the bottom of a ruck, 25 – 24… BUT … the referee could not see the grounding and the ‘try’ was not allowed! Then followed the final whistle. Both teams had given everything and contributed to a fantastic game of rugby. We wish Lymm well in the final and now we move on to the Sevens season, a report of which will appear in the next In Focus.

D Hendry, i/c 1st XV rugby

In Focus, March 2013  

The School's News magazine for March 2013.

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