The latest copy of our school newsletter is now available on the newsletters page.
Congratulations to our Year 9 Magistrates team who once again won the local heats of the Mock Magistrates competition in Newcastle.
The national competition sees over 4000 pupils from Year 8 and 9 compete in a real court of law. They take on the roles of defendant, witnesses, magistrates, lawyers and legal advisors and act out a case live in front of the judges. Whilst the pupils can prepare in advance, the team is split on the day to compete against another school. This means that they are never sure as to the response they will get when questioning witnesses or when being cross-examined. They have to know their case inside out and be able to think on their feet.
The team of 12 girls worked incredibly hard in the weeks before the trial and put in outstanding performances under pressure in the courtroom. Their hard work paid off and they were put through to the Regional competition.
Last year the team went through to the National finals in London and came third in the country. Sadly however, it looks as if the competition will now be cancelled. We have no doubts that the team would have gone forward again to gain a place at the national final in Cardiff this year and would not be surprised if they could have finished even higher than last year. A disappointing end for the girls but once again, they were a huge credit to the school.
Since September 2019, DCHS students across multiple year groups have been part of a top-secret pilot project with the Lego Foundation. The project, run in conjunction with local creative company CCE Insights, aimed to test out a class set of ‘Lego Creative Toolkits’ to see if they would enhance learning for students, with a view to then rolling out the packs as a free resource for all schools in the future.
The pilot involved 15 schools in the UK and 15 in Denmark, and DCHS was lucky to have 30 toolkits available for staff to use. The kits are still in school and can be used for the remainder of the academic year.
Initially the toolkits were thought to be more suitable for Primary Schools, although soon we learned of interesting ways to use them with students right the way up to year 13. Inside the packs (which were top secret until now) there are a selection of Lego bricks with words such as ‘create’, ‘build’, ‘take apart’ and ‘reflect’ written on. Some additional bricks have happy and sad faces, and some are blank, with a special pen provided to write new concepts or ideas on the bricks themselves.
Students in Mr Hay’s Art classes have used the toolkits to explore what it is to be creative, and have found ways of identifying the processes they used to generate artwork, giving them a new way of expressing themselves and providing a visual journey for their records.
In Mrs Bush’s English lessons the bricks were used with gothic tasks to help students reflect on teamwork and communication skills, as well as being used to recall content such as the plot and feelings of characters in Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’.
CCE Insights were so impressed with some of the student work that they revisited school and filmed students from 7ML and 8JTT using the kits, footage which subsequently featured in the short film below. This film was used at the international Lego Conference in February, and can now be shared with you.
As a result of the pilot project some elements of the toolkits will likely be modified before production begins. The Lego Foundation is a separate, philanthropic branch of the wider Lego company and, therefore, if the kits are rolled out to all schools this will be done for the benefit of students and not for profit. Excellent news as we found the toolkits incredibly helpful in getting our students working together, expressing themselves creatively and thinking outside of the box.
Poetry club students have had a very busy couple of weeks, representing the school at a number of events. Firstly, we read tree poems at the Plant for the Planet Friends of the Earth conference at school a week past Saturday, and produced pamphlets of the poems for all delegates. Thanks go to Rosie Bush for printing the pamphlets, and to Hugh Dunford who performed his poem and helped to calm the students’ nerves.
Then last Thursday Helen Fenton and I accompanied Eloise B to the Read Regional ‘Meet the Poet’ event at Morpeth library. We took part in a poetry workshop with Linda France, then listened to Hafsah Bashir read her amazing work. She is going to be at Kendal Poetry Festival, so it was great to meet her before we go.
On Sunday night, students performed their poems about Northumbrian women at the mayor’s dinner at the White Swan, as part of Alnwick’s International Women’s Day celebrations. Many thanks to Dave Rowley for helping me with the presentation. The students wowed the audience, with people in evening dress running after us as we left to tell us how wonderful our students were! We were presented with a framed certificate to thank us for our performance.
We are, as always, immensely proud of our poetry club students. Special thanks go to Eloise B, who has come to all three events, and to Freddie W, who performed at both the conference and the dinner.
The Science department are hatching chicks and we all get a front row seat!
This year, for science club, we were lucky enough (again) to get some fertilized chicken eggs from Anna M (Yr 13). Out of the six eggs five were fertilized and hatched successfully! First out was our only black chick “Mocha”. He/she was hatched on Wednesday 4th March from one of the bantam eggs (small breed of chicken) followed a few hours later by the second small egg and “Shelly” was hatched (the smallest yellow chick). By morning on the 5th two of the larger eggs had also hatched giving us two very similar yellow chicks, “Rocky” (so named because he/she was always rocking while in the egg while trying to hatch) and “Dora the Eggsplorer”. You can tell them apart as Rocky has a more orange tinge and is slightly bigger than Dora. We were then left with a final egg which was concerning us as it had pipped (made a hole in the shell) over 24 hours earlier and they can dry out the membrane and get stuck! We increased the humidity in the incubator and hoped for the best. A few hours later “Guac” successfully hatched although it looked like the egg yolk hadn’t absorbed fully. This meant that he/she couldn’t join the others in the cage as they would be drawn to the egg yolk and could hurt Guac, he is getting intensive care from Anna at home but we hope he/she can join their egg mates soon. You can still watch the live feed of the chicks through the week and there are holding sessions each lunchtime (except Wednesdays) in D8 1pm – 1:25pm for the next few weeks.
The Duchess Community High School are pleased to welcome parents and students who may have an interest in representing our school in the newly formed DCHS Equestrian Team to an information evening to find out more about what is involved.
Students can ride as individuals or form part of a team by becoming members of the National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) more information can be found on the NSEA website: nsea.org.uk so please feel free to have a look.
There are a number of disciplines students can qualify for: show jumping, dressage, arena eventing, eventing, grass roots and pop up dressage. DCHS are already registered as a school and so far, we have parents and staff who are registered as the team manager, Julia Dods, SJ & Arena eventing coach, Rachel Gray and on behalf of the school the role of administrator is held by Lynsey Willis
We would welcome parents interested in any other disciplines to come and join us in supporting students to take part, even if you don’t think you’re quite ready for the national qualifiers, come and join in with some of our training and practice sessions, its great fun, and the most important thing for us as organisers is that the students have fun and learn from all the highs and lows along the way in an inclusive and supportive environment.
Some of our younger students have previously qualified and attended the National Championships at Addington over the last three years in their Primary schools, so they along with their parents will hopefully bring with them some useful advice and experience for those joining who are completely new to this level of competition. You don’t have to enrol in NESA to take part in training and practice which is usually at local equestrian establishments, you are more than welcome to join us to see if it’s for you, membership is only required for those children wishing to compete in qualifying competitions.
We hope you can join us to find out more about this exciting new initiative on Tuesday 11 February in school from 5.30pm. In order to get an idea of numbers please rsvp to email@example.com by end of day on Monday 10 February.
On February 3rd, nine of our year 8 students represented DCHS in the 2020 Lego “Tomorrow’s Engineers” Robotics Challenge north east heat at Nissan, Sunderland. The competition, supported by Lego Education, Rolls Royce and the RAF involved the design and construction of two autonomous robots able to compete in a speed challenge and a series of programming challenges themed around the environment and sustainability.
Our team performed with confidence and professionalism, working hard to overcome technical issues on the day and were ultimately runners up in this national competition. Team DCHS LEGO won the Robot Design part of the competition) and worked hard on the day to improve their programming and robot performance over several rounds of competition. Overall winners were the more experienced Emmanuel College (who pipped us at the post with an excellent team presentation) who go on to compete in the national finals at the Big Bang science fair in Birmingham later in March. Team members are Claudia I, Hermione L, Molly W, Jamie D, Theo B, Edvin V, Louis M, Izzy H and Adele L.
The Young Photographer Competition is a well-established and successful competition organised by Rotary International.
Students wanting to get involved were asked to produce a portfolio of three photographs based upon the theme, ‘Through My Eyes’ in colour or black and white and it was up to students to show their interpretation of the theme.
We’ve had over 75 entries this year with students across years 7-12. The judges thought all entries were fantastic and had a hard job choosing but we’re pleased to say:
WINNER: Cooper W 8LEM
RUNNER-UP: Leah R 9AHR
WINNER: Katie G 9AHR
RUNNER-UP: Evie B 10CSN
Cooper & Katie will move forward to the next round. Below is a gallery of their fantastic entries.