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Celebrate The Official Magazine of St Birinus School


Eight Jul ‘13 - Sep ‘13

Inspiring Excellence

Lawrence Dallaglio Charity Work Summer BBQ 01235 814444

St Birinus School, Mereland Road, Didcot, Oxon OX11 8AZ ●

Summer Celebrations

Sports Awards Evening Dear Families Wow! What a bumper edition of Celebrate - and which will also bring back many happy memories of the Summer. As well as the celebration of the excellent exam results, Celebrate showcases the many other areas of education in its very broadest sense that St Birinus offers its students. It’s particularly pleasing to see a musical theme running throughout. So many parents have rightly informed me that they have sent their son here due to the very strong reputation we have for musical excellence. A must read in this edition is also the amazing trip to Tanzania. It’s an inspiring read - and certainly speaks of a life-changing experience for the students involved. Celebrate wouldn’t be Celebrate without plenty of sport - so please enjoy the article about the inaugural Sports Awards Evening and photos of a group of students who enjoyed a rugby coaching session with ex-England International Lawrence Dallaglio. Best wishes Alwyn Richards

Celebrate is written and designed by the Press Club. If you would like to help with future editions, come along to our next meeting!

The end of last year’s awards season was topped off in style with the inaugural Sports Awards Evening. Students from across the year groups attended with friends and family to receive their trophies in the hall, which had been transformed into something resembling a Hollywood awards ceremony. The evening began with 20 Year 9 students receiving the Sports Award for their high contribution to a sporting aspect of school life. Then came a round-up of the successes of each team, followed by 16 awards celebrating the most worthy individuals for each sport. As ever, the most prestigious awards were saved until last. This began by awarding Dr Zabierek as Coach of the Year for her dedication to the Swimming club. Next came the Team of the Year which was awarded to the Under 15 Football Squad, narrowly beating the Under 15 Tennis and Under 17 Weightlifting teams. Conor O’Rourke received the Sports Performer of the Year award, having made the most significant contribution to the school in terms of sports performance. Finally, the Outstanding Contribution to School Sport was presented to Oliver Sykes. Mr Tamblin said of Oliver, “His main attribute lies in his willingness to support others. He has been an exceptional sports leader and has become an excellent ambassador for the school.” The evening also raised £336 for the new astro-turf through a silent auction, which included tickets to see the London Wasps and a signed Steve Redgrave t-shirt from the Beijing Olympics. We’d like to thank the PE Department and all other staff who organised the event and look forward to the next one!

Hagbourne BBQ The last social event in the school calendar was, as ever, the spectacular School Association BBQ. Once again, it was held in the stunning grounds of Kingsholme in Hagbourne which played host to a range of music from different school ensembles. The School Band began with several upbeat jazz and contemporary tunes. They were then followed by the choir performing lots of well know songs, including a medley of “Les Miserables” pieces. This included several solos, all performed expertly by our students from St Birinus and the Sixth Form. There were also smaller ensembles performing. The audience listened eagerly as the Flute Quartet performed music of a more classical nature, and later there was a surprise guitar and flute rendition by Mr Thompson and former student Rory Evans. The School Band returned afterwards, followed by a jazz band of former students who had come to listen to the music. The weather was fabulous, with everyone in the audience enjoying an evening-relax in the sun. This meant that the BBQ and drinks stalls were busy with people making the most of the informal atmosphere, and there was even a spot of fundraising by some dedicated students! This was a wonderful way to close the year. There are plenty of photos and a short video of highlights from the evening on our website, so do take a look and we look forward to seeing you next year!

Athletics KS3 Nick Wiltshire KS4/5 Liam Warr

Rugby KS3 Max Suttner KS4/5 Leo Murphy

Basketball KS3 Jack Thomas KS4/5 Andrei Barcelona

Swimming KS3 Oliver Beard KS4/5 Daniel Amphlett


Weightlifting Junior Will Burchette Senior Conor O’Rourke

Daniel Blair

Cricket KS3 Matthew Addison KS4/5 Jonathan Meardon Tennis

John Balshaw

Football KS3 Lee Davis KS4/5 Scott Grove

Coach of the Year Team of the Year

Dr Zabierek U15 Football

Sports Performer of the Year

Conor O’Rourke

Outstanding Contribution

Oliver Sykes

Work Experience

At the end of Year 10, students have the chance to do work experience. Below are two accounts about very different types of jobs to inspire you for when you have to decide where to go!

“For my work experience I went to Ladygrove Park primary school. It was a really good thing to do because it let me learn what it’s like to be in a school environment as a member of staff, rather than as a student.

I learnt many things whilst I was there, such as how a day runs for teachers and how much actual planning goes into one day of school. One of the days I was with the school caretaker. Over the course of the day I had to help with tasks such as cleaning up the gardens and putting up a whiteboard. Being with the caretaker made me appreciate how much other people do for the school. Overall it was an enjoyable week and I would now consider a future career in a teaching environment.” Tom Lawrence

“I did my work experience at the New Theatre in Oxford. I spent the week hanging lights and testing that the lights worked. I got to help run the lights for a show, operate the flys and use the spotlights. I even got the chance to set up a WestEnd show called “Save the Last Dance” that was on tour.” Chris Gadd

Science Towards the end of last academic year, the Science Department held a Gifted and Talented event for primary school pupils from the local communities. The children all had great fun and learnt a lot whilst using some of the school’s specialist equipment. We hope it inspired many of them to develop their scientific curiosity!

Jazz Performance At the end of September, all our Year 7s were treated to a jazz workshop organised by the Music Department. For the past three weeks, Chuck Lloyd from the County Music Service had been working with 7.4 and 7.5 on learning a jazz melody, bass line and how to improvise. This then culminated in a performance of their skills at the workshop, including improvised solos by 6 students. This was all to an audience of the rest of Year 7, staff and parents, but the performers managed to hold their nerves and gave a great rendition! Chuck Lloyd said the boys were all very talented and fast learners, which he then demonstrated by having them perform a call and response exercise where they had to listen and repeat an improvised tune. The morning also saw demonstrations of some specific instruments, including the saxophone, flute and cello. Afterwards, it was clear that the workshop had impressed the audience because many of the boys and parents showed interest in learning a vast range of instruments. It was great to hear how quickly the students learnt to play the music, with one member of staff even commenting that all the parents were beaming with pride at the boys’ achievements.

Charity-work to the Max!


In recognition for his outstanding dedication to local charities, Max Harwood (Year 13) was recently rewarded with a trip to visit the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey in London. Max was selected by Sporting Bears (the charity which organized the event) along with only 9 others from across the UK, therefore recognizing that Max is one of the country’s most respected young charity workers.

During the Summer holiday, many of our students get involved in amazing projects. This includes Kieran Agg who was lucky enough to perform abroad with the Oxfordshire Schools’ Symphony Orchestra (OSSO) during its annual European tour.

After a stylish entrance in Bentleys, Max and the rest of the group began their tour of the Houses of Parliament. They were guided by Richard Fuller, the MP for Bedford, and saw the inside of the House of Lords. Mr Fuller explained to the group how Parliament works, how the day is structured and the divides between the Commons and Lords. Max said that he didn’t realize how different the two Houses are and that it was very interesting to learn that the shouting and rudeness between politicians isn’t taken offensively as it is simply how the system works. Max was then able to speak personally with a local MP, where he decided to discuss the education system and how government is planning to develop this. Max was told that there are many good ideas in the pipeline, but that it can often take a lot of trial and error before final solutions are chosen. Max added that before going he thought many of the politicians would ignore them as they would be too busy – but in fact many spoke with him and that “it was nice to see they are normal people, unlike what is sometimes shown on TV!” Next, Max visited Westminster Abbey which he found incredibly useful to his academic studies. He told us that there were many unique paintings and objects from the Tudor period that aren’t allowed to be photographed, and so seeing them provided a real contrast to the resources he has already studied in his History lessons. Max was nominated by SSAFA (the Forces Family charity) for his work with many organisations, including Help for Heroes, Spurgeons and the South and Vale Carers Centre. For South and Vale Max submitted a successful funding bid for £6,000 to pay for residential trips for young carers. He has helped Spurgeons organize additional trips and completed his National Citizen Service through supporting Help for Heroes. He has also raised money through bag packing, assisted in improving local youth group facilities and a whole host of other charitable activities! Max said that living on the military barracks inspired him to get involved with these charities. He also wants to help connect the military base with the rest of the town and develop a strong community – we are in no doubt of his success at this and look forward to hearing about his future charity-work!

Kieran travelled with the orchestra all the way to the town of Bled in north-western Slovenia for the three-day tour which they shared with the Oxfordshire Youth Wind Band. Kieran plays the violin in the orchestra and said that they spent each afternoon rehearsing for performances that they gave every night for the local townspeople. In the mornings they also had time to do some sightseeing, giving Kieran the fascinating chance to explore the local towns, culture and even some caves! On returning to Britain, the orchestra performed one last concert in Oxford to celebrate the success of the tour. This was Kieran’s first orchestral tour with OSSO and he said he really enjoyed it. He joined the orchestra only a year ago, having previously been in the more junior Oxfordshire School’s Orchestra for a year. Kieran has he sights set high; he is currently working towards his Grade 7 violin exam and said that he hopes to move into the Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra, the most senior of the county’s orchestras. This would give him even more opportunities to perform on his violin across the globe!


This summer a group of 21 students from St Birinus, Didcot Girls’ School and the Didcot Sixth Form went on a month long trip to Tanzania, on the East coast of Africa. This was to work with local communities in small-scale sustainable projects, and to help protect wildlife through conservation projects.

We took part in a range of activities, such as building houses, seaweed farming and even making paper from elephant dung. We also went scuba-diving at the start of the expedition, which was an incredible experience. Just as exciting was the two days of safari, at Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, where we saw the Big Five (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Cape Buffalo).

This trip had been a long time in planning, as we all started fundraising our £4,000+ since early 2012. This included: getting jobs; bag packing at Tesco; organising cake sales and school discos; and selling items such as clothes and CDs. However all the time and effort was well worth it. We never imagined we could do so much, see so much and achieve so much in four weeks!

The expedition has been a real eye-opener for all of us, and I think the biggest change is that we have learnt to appreciate other cultures and lifestyles so different from our own. We’ve all matured loads in a short space of time, and everyone has benefitted hugely from it.

Tanzania is an amazing country on the East coast of Africa, with beautiful and varied scenery; stunning beaches, dominating mountains, and vast plains full of diverse wildlife. The people are welcoming and friendly, and always happy to see you!

To anyone considering taking part in anything like this, my only advice would be go for it! We were all apprehensive before, and I think most of us wondered what the heck we’d signed up for as we left England! However, I think the whole team would agree it was the most amazing thing we’ve ever done. Richard Stone (Year 13)

School Association After the long, fine summer, an exceptionally wet September evening did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the new Year 7 boys and their parents as they gathered for the annual Social Evening. A fun night with bowling, BBQ and a bar provided just some of the entertainment along with an opportunity to relax with staff and meet other new parents. From a School Association perspective, this group of boys and their parents seem like a really friendly bunch, so we look forward to more great social occasions in the coming months. A big “thank you” to everyone that helped with the evening. Glyn Oliver, School Association

Summer Exams In August we saw the reward of years of hard work by our students as they collected their GCSE and A-level results. Both

groups of students achieved incredibly well - the A-levels were the 6th Form’s record best results, whilst the GCSEs equalled the school’s best-ever grades. Furthermore, Mr Richards added that the progress in English and Maths in GCSEs was “the best the school has ever achieved and exceeded all targets.”


To celebrate their achievements, A-level students were treated to interviews and photographs by local journalists, whilst Matt Richardson (former St Birinus student and current TV presenter) congratulated our boys as they collected their GCSEs.


Of the 214 students sitting exams:

Of the 148 students sitting exams:

• 64% achieved at least 5 A* - C • 61% achieved at least 5 A* - C including English and Maths • 18% achieved the English Baccalaureate • 8 students achieved 4 or more A* grades

• • • • •

Mr Richards said, “We are delighted with these results. They very much demonstrate the hard work of the students, the staff and the ongoing support we receive from parents. It is particularly pleasing to see the excellent performances within English and Mathematics. Well done everyone!”

Mr Richards said, “These results represent excellent achievement for our students and continue the trend of Didcot Sixth Form College returning strong results year on year – well done to all students and staff! We are very proud of all our students and wish them all the best for their futures.”

9% gained all A* grades 30% gained A* - A 57% gained A* - B 81% gained A* - C 98% gained A* - E

In Other News... In September we officially welcomed Civica to St Birinus, who are our new ICT service providers. They had been working hard all Summer to install and upgrade a range of digital tools to enhance teaching and learning, which have been used non-stop by all departments this term. Their developments continue to progress and so we look forward to seeing new technologies across the school and online.

Sport Roundup In September, a group of our Rugby fans were treated to a discussion and coaching session with rugby legend and OBE, Lawrence Dallaglio (pictured). The Swimming team have stormed to early successes by winning 4 golds and achieving a new county record in the medley preliminary races for ESSA. Zac Corderoy has become the national champion in his age category in the Thundersport 125cc Motorbike Race. A full list of fixtures and results for all our sports teams can be found on the website under “News”.

To secure their place with St Birinus, Civica had to go through a gruelling application process that included a day of presentations. Bradley Stone from the School Council was one of

the lucky students to attend and he provided Celebrate with this account:

Civica’s presentation was run by ex-teachers. This was great as they personally knew what people our age liked and delivered it in the most accessible way. We then got to have a go on all their gadgets which were very cool and could be easily implicated into classes. We also saw their online platform which was very up-to-date and had a recognisible Facebook-like layout. After the day I was all teched out, so to speak, but had experienced a tremendous day. Getting home, my house seemed in need of a 3D projector or two!

Dreadlockalien National performance poet Richard Grant (aka Dreadlockalien) ran a poetry workshop with all Year 10 students. Richard held the post of Birmingham Poet Laureate in 2005-06 and this workshop tied in with the start of the national Reading Week. During the day, Richard and the students worked on creating poetry, raps and rhymes and performing them live in front of fellow classmates. Much of this was then performed over pupils’ beat-boxing. Not only did the day focus on poetry, but it also included discussions on inclusion and diversity, with Richard saying that “tolerance is important…and poetry is the language of life” and so can be used to communicate more effectively between people and communities. He added that “the students had excellent energy throughout the day, and had a good respect for different cultures.”

That’s it for this edition! There are a whole range of upcoming events, from the Awards Evening to the Carol Service and everything else inbetween. We’ll bring you news of them in future editions. As always, if you have any stories, please send them to us, and visit the website for a whole host of other information.

Celebrate 08 (Autumn 2013)  
Celebrate 08 (Autumn 2013)