At Barr Beacon School we are committed to providing our pupils with opportunities to experience life outside of the UK and to experience for themselves other cultures and ways of life. It is vital that we nurture outward-looking, community minded individuals who understand that the world is greater than Barr Beacon School, Walsall and even the UK. We hope by exposing our pupils during their time at Barr Beacon School to exciting international opportunities that they will aim higher in their aspirations for further education and their future careers.
Year 7 and 8 pupils from the four Matrix Academy Trust schools are on a football tour in Holland and are looking forward to seeing a fixture tonight.
The teams on our football tour. Year 8 won their fixture. Although Year 7 didn't, they presented their opponents with a valiant challenge.
Another shot of our Year 8's enjoying their football tour in Holland.
Leipzig, Germany 2019
After a long first day of travelling, we started off the project with a tour of Leipzig. We were introduced to several buildings that were regenerated in the past fifteen years. This indicate to us how Leipzig rebuilt its damaged image after a severe period of urban decline and deindustrialisation.
After this, we had a talk from an urban redevelopment specialist in Leipzig town centre where he explained the evolution in his city. The main aim of the redevelopment in Leipzig was to be sustainable and preserve green and blue areas. He helped us to prepare for our project that we would present to Prince Charles the next day.
On Wednesday 8th May, our UK-German connection group met Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in Leipzig town hall after hours of preparation. He discussed our projects and how important it is to preserve the history of the buildings and towns. He also emphasised the importance of the sustainability of green and blue spaces and how we can plan for a better, cleaner future.
Later that night, we said farewell to our Leipzig participants during a well-deserved meal at a traditional restaurant in the heart of Leipzig. Here we tried traditional German food and drink in order to expand our knowledge of the German culture and traditions.
Helsinki, Finland 2019
First days in Finland: After a long day’s travelling, we arrived in Finland to be greeted by our host teacher Anni. Staying in Helsinki for the two nights enabled us to get to know this beautiful city and its rich history.
Tomorrow, we move towards the home town of our hosts – Nivala. Students will then move in with their host families for the next four nights, working closely with other students on one of the key project skills: ‘Communication’.
Our students asked questions at every opportunity, leading from the front in keenness and interest! Our first stop was the Parliamentary building, with the ministers meeting at a different location, hoping to form a new government after recent general elections.
Following our visit we then made our way to Helsinki University’s Faculty of Agriculture, where we learnt about how they prepare their students to cope with the demands of life in a farming-dominated industry.
Day 2. After a 5 1/2 hour journey through central Finland, our pupils finally arrived in the small town of Nivala. The pupils and staff were greeted by host families who were very pleased to see our students.
Staff from all countries then met up to discuss the project and the rest of the week in Finland. The UK led on discussions regarding the November visit where all countries will visit Barr Beacon for 5 days.
Day 3 – Students had a tour of the Finnish school, visiting all different subjects to gain a feel of what it is like to study in Nivala.
The custom of taking your shoes off to walk around school was adhered to by all students. We learnt that they do this because of the weather. It rains and snows so much that, if students didn’t do this, the school floors would be wet and muddy the whole year round.
Our students then gave their presentations on Barr Beacon School and the agriculture industry in England. They all did a fantastic job working on life skills such as public speaking.
Day 4 – Today, our students went to the local agricultural college to discover how they are training their next generation of workers. They found out about how they develop biogas, look after cattle and what machinery is required on a modern farm.
Later, we drove (in a coach, not a tractor) to the forest where we investigated how trees are cut down and replanted so the forest is sustainable. Two students from Beacon and two from Finland rode in the specialist machinery designed to cut down and strip trees.
On Friday, the students from all countries participated in the Erasmus Olympics. Students took part in very traditional Finnish games like Finnish baseball, floorball, tug of war and the welly throw!
Barr Beacon students led from the front and participated well in all areas, helping others along the way.
In the afternoon, students learnt more about traditional Finnish life in 1800s, being taken back in time to the way they use to live. The last stop on the tour was the beautiful local Nivala church which has stood for over 150 years.
I’m unsure of where to start when it comes to talking about Finland. I genuinely had one of the most fun experiences of my life thus far. Not only was I able to meet new people who were absolutely lovely, I also re-connected with some of the friends that I made in Denmark last year. These people made leaving Finland incredibly hard, but I’m excited to see them again as soon as possible; we’re already planning on meeting up with some of the Danes this summer! In addition to this, I had some really fun experiences that I doubt I would have had otherwise, such as visiting the Finnish parliament building and playing Finnish baseball. Overall, Erasmus has been a fantastic way for me to view the culture and lives of other countries, and explore what is important to them. I can’t wait for them to arrive in England and I am grateful to have had the experience. Thank you Erasmus!
Orlando Florida 2019
Day 7: This morning we went out on an air boat at Boggy Creek alligator spotting - we spotted 6! The largest was 9 foot long! We also saw 2 baby alligators. We then had a pit stop at Walmart to stock up on candy before we embarked on 3 hours of shopping at Orlando Premium Outlet and boy did we shop! A great end to an amazing week. We are now homeward bound.
Day 6: This morning we returned to Kennedy Space Center. We spent time viewing the exhibit of space shuttle Atlantis. We learnt about NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program.We took part in the Shuttle Launch Experience - a simulation of the space shuttle’s eight-and-a-half-minute ascent into orbit! We listened to a pre-launch briefing by veteran space shuttle commander Charles Bolden before boarding the shuttle for an experience that veteran NASA astronauts call the next best thing to flying aboard the space shuttle. It was out of this world!
We then returned to the classroom where the robotics competition continued. We used ‘Lab View’ to navigate a realistic mock up of the martian surface, navigating around targets and gaining points. This exercise required a lot of skill and patience. At the end of the competition all pupils were presented with a certificate before the winning team was announced.
After lunch we spent some time on the beach and jumping the waves in the Atlantic Ocean. We spent our last night in Florida sat around a fire pit at the hotel, talking about the amazing experiences we have encountered this week. We then made s’mores from marshmallows, chocolate and crackers. We are looking forward to our final day before we start our journey home.
Day 5: Our second day at Kennedy Space Center started off with a robotics competition - Space Trek Robotics. We learnt how to program a robot using ‘Arduno’. Our mission was to navigate the robot around quite a complex route involving a few sharp turns. The competition was fierce but fun!
We then attended a private event ‘Lunch With An Astronaut’ where we enjoyed some delicious food whilst Scott Parazynski gave a short presentation before taking questions from the audience. We learnt a lot about life in space. After lunch we went on a NASA bus tour of Launch Complex 39. WOW! We saw the tallest single storey building in the world, aligators, rocket launch stations and we sat in the control room where Saturn V was launched from. We learnt about all the failed attempts that were made to reach space and then enjoyed hearing about the successful attempts. A very interesting and informative tour.
On our way to dinner at a local restaurant, we stopped off for a spot of shopping at Ron John’s Surf Shop. After dinner we took a stroll down to the beach where we saw a ‘super moon’. This is when the full moon appears larger in the sky because it's orbit is closest to the earth. We saw its reflection in the Atlantic Ocean. It was stunning. We then had fun jumping waves in the ocean.
Day 4: Today we had our first session at Kennedy Space Center. We had a lesson on the history of rocketry before getting into teams and building our own rockets ready for a launch competition. We were also privileged to listen to a speech delivered by astronaut Scott Parazynski. He told the audience about how his dream to become an astronaut started at the age of 5 years. We also heard about all his space missions. After his speech, Scott Parazynski posed for a photograph with us.
Day 3: We have had a long but very enjoyable day. We started off with a ‘Behind the Adventures’ programme, at Islands of adventure, where we found out about what goes on behind the scenes, where the ideas for the rides come from, how the special effects are added and the costs that are involved.
We were then given VIP treatment and we were allowed to take a ride on four of the big attractions without having to queue! These were: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Reign of Kong and Jurassic Park River Adventure.
We then had the rest of the day to explore Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. After dinner we returned to the park and watched the very colourful and entertaining Mardi Gras parade.
Day 2: After a long day travelling yesterday, we arrived at the hotel and enjoyed our ‘pizza party’.
Today, we we up early ready for an iFly experience this morning followed by an afternoon at Universal Studios.
After a successful week of skiing in New Hampshire we have now moved onto New York City. The pupils enjoyed a traditional meal at the Hard Rock Cafe before walking north through the iconic Times Square, to the Rockefeller Center. While at the Rockerfeller the pupils climbed into an elevator and shot 69 floors up in less than a minute. This took us to the observatory deck where we will able to see the amazing views of the NYC sky line at night.
Denmark Diary 2018
Monday 10th December
After two flights ( Birmingham to Amsterdam/ Amsterdam to Billund) we arrived in the home of Lego!
We took a bus journey to Haderslev and then the pupils met their host families to rest after a long day.
Tuesday 11th December
Students and staff visited the Danish school. To start the project off, students all introduced their school, country and interesting facts about their local area. Our students delivered an informative and highly entertaining presentation, which included common English slang words and the concept of a ‘ cheeky Nandos ’! Students then got into groups and worked on producing a role play based upon the theme of immigration. Students were asked to read the Ugly Duckling, written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, and discuss the key themes around tolerance and acceptance.
In the afternoon, staff and students were given a tour of the local town and learnt about the history and culture of the area.
Wednesday 12th December
Students and staff took the 3-hour drive to the beautiful city of Copenhagen. Here we witnessed the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace, took photos of the famous Little Mermaid statue and finished the day off at Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli had a selection of fun fair rides and Christmas stalls, all decorated with artificial snow which made us all feel very Chrismassy! We had a group meal with all of the other students and staff in the evening before the students headed back to their host families.
Thursday 13th December
At the Danish school, students performed their role plays to the rest of the groups on the Ugly Duckling. Danish media were present, taking photographs and interviewing students on their experiences of the project so far (some of our students made the newspaper!). Students then walked to the local Skate Park and had a lesson on how to skateboard. Some students were better at skateboarding than others, but we had no broken bones!
Friday 14th December
Before we left for the airport, we visited the school to say goodbye. The students took part in an English lesson, debating the use of social media, allowing the class to practise their English. It was great to be able to contribute to the school after the wonderful time we had there.
Miss O’Connor and Miss Salmon would like to congratulate our students who took part in the project. They had an excellent attitude and made valuable contributions throughout the visit. Well done!
Written by Ethan Hunt – Year 11
On Sunday 8th December, we arrived at school all packed and ready to go. Despite being 3:30am on a Sunday morning we were extremely excited for the journey ahead of us. 9 hours later we had arrived in Catania and met all of our host families who were waiting right outside of the airport with a huge banner saying ‘Welcome to Sicily’. This is where the amazing six days spent in Italy began.
During our time on the island we got up to a multitude of different experiences, trips, and activities. From cooking, to site-seeing, to climbing up one of the most active volcanoes in the world (Mount Etna). We managed to cram every single thing that Catania had to offer into only a few days.
For me the best part of the whole experience was meeting all of the fantastic Sicilian people in the school who welcomed us with open arms. This was especially useful to me as I study Italian at school and this trip enabled me to practise what I have already learned but also teach the students over there how to speak English in return.
Here is a short quote from one of group who travelled to the Island of Sicily:
‘I've made so many amazing friends and me and a few other Beacon students have even planned to return to Sicily in the summer holiday’
Pupils have spent the morning making stain glass windows, representing their countries. During the afternoon, pupils have free time to spend the last afternoon with host families where some of the children are going to see the sights of the local parks and going bowling!
Early start tomorrow to travel back to the UK. See you soon!
Pupils spent the morning learning about heraldry where they created, in teams, a coat of arms. The shields at the end of the session looked fantastic and would have fitted into any Medieval home.
Pupils and staff then caught the local bus to Starŷ Jičín to visit the ruins of the castle and the reconstructed look-out tower. Pupils took part in a scavenger hunt climbing the hill, answering questions about Czech history to get clues. When pupils managed to reach the the top of the hill, they had to race against the other groups to find the chocolate treasure.
There were plenty of photo opportunities due to the amazing scenic views of the area.
Last day tomorrow!
Pupils started off the day with a ‘Ghosts of the Czech Republic’ workshop where they made their own ghosts in mixed country teams. Pupils and staff shared and compared their countries’ national ghosts!
After lunch we caught the bus to Štramberk, a town that is dominated by the Trúba castle tower. The town had many historical timber buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Staff and pupils made their own gingerbread ‘ears’ at the local bakery. We also climbed the stairs to the Trúba castle tower, where, at the top, we took in the views of Štramberk.
After this we went to the local ceramic artist where pupils got the chance to spin a pot! Another great day in Czech Republic!
The pupils met the Vice Major of Nový Jičín at the local town hall, who gave a brief history talk about the town. We went up the town hall clock tower, showing us a scenic view of the town.
During the morning the pupils had a tour around the school, sharing their presentations about themselves and Barr Beacon School, taking part in team building activities with the Czech and Romanian pupils.
During the afternoon we visited the Museum of Hats. This was an interactive museum where pupils and staff could try on a range of 120 hats! We also had an tour of Nový Jičín, taking in the sights of the picturesque town.
A postcard from Prague, from Miss Smith
We arrived in Prague and meet Alexandra who is an English teacher in Nový Jičín.
Alexandra took us on a tour of Prague, visiting the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. We also viewed the amazing stained glass windows in St Vitus’ cathedral with an amazing array of colours shining through onto the walls. We then walked to the Old Square, soaking in the sights, and waited for the astronomical clock to strike 12 where there was a display that had been going on since medieval times.
After the afternoon in Prague we boarded the train to Nový Jičín. The pupils met their Czech families, ready to be welcomed into their homes for the night.
Czech in later (see what I did there...)
Matrix Sports Tour
On the 28th May, 18 of our most talented footballers from Barr Beacon and Dame Elizabeth Cadbury started the 16-hour coach journey to the Netherlands to play two matches against Dutch semi-professional football teams. On Tuesday morning, the team were up early to have access to the Duinrell water park and theme park, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The team stopped for lunch before preparing themselves for their first fixture against FC Aalsmeer. The facilities of what is considered an amateur football club were outstanding, with numerous 4G pitches and 3 high quality grass pitches. The club were also very welcoming, providing us with a team pendant prior to kick off.
Matrix Academy 6 – FC Aalsmeer 1
Matrix started the game very quickly with Keough and Clarke dictating the play. Donnelley was also causing the opposition full back serious problems through continually picking up the ball and driving at the players. Matrix raced into an early 1-0 lead before an acrobatic effort from the opposition striker brought the game back level. However, Matrix hit back with goals from Jones and Moseley to ensure that, when half time was reached, Matrix were leading 5-1. The second half started in the same way the first half had ended with both teams passing the ball well. However, an excellent strike from Clarke saw Matrix extend their lead. Shortly afterwards, a lightning storm hit the area which resulted in the game being abandoned early. Man of the Match: Lewis Donnelley
The team was up early on the Wednesday, excited for the tour of the Ajax Stadium. This gave the team the opportunity to look at high quality football facilities, stand where the owners of the club would stand, sit where the players would sit prior to a game. Luckily, on the day, the tour guide allowed the team to go on to the pitch and stand in the middle of the stadium. The tour ended with the team having time to go to the club shop.
WIK FC 7 – MATRIX 3
Matrix started the game confident that they could get a result, having won so convincingly the previous day. However WIK (a team from Holland) were a much more organised and stronger team that FC Aalsmeer. WIK dominated the first, have reduced Matrix to half chances whilst also pressurising the team in mistakes. This resulted in WIK leading 5-1 at half time. At half time Keough, Clarke, Wood and Bizabani were introduced, with WIK now on the back foot. Some excellent work from Keough was played into Wood, who excellently stuck the ball from 20 yards to place the ball in the bottom corner of the net. Matrix were having all of the ball, and started committing more men forward. This left gaps at the back and WIK managed to exploit these with effect scoring late on in the game.
World Challenge - Nepal
Nepal! 16th July-31st July 2018
Barr Beacon pupils had the amazing opportunity this summer to take part in an extraordinary expedition to Nepal in Asia. The itinerary took the pupils well out of their comfort zones and gave them opportunities most can only dream of experiencing. What made this trip even more fulfilling for the pupils that took part is that they raised the money themselves through fundraising activities like abseiling to win their place on the trip!
The expedition was split into 3 parts. Each Barr Beacon team did the expedition in a different order but all experienced the same amazing expedition.
The project phase took the teams to the outskirts of Kathmandu and this stage of our expedition was certainly the most satisfying and the primary reason for this great trip. Our 2 teams visited 2 different schools, where Barr Beacons pupils and staff helped renovate their very dilapidated school that had been affected by the earthquake in 2015. The staff and the pupils of the schools were absolutely thrilled when they received our gifts of torches and especially excited with the donation of football kits which the team collected through numerous kind donations from the local area and the wider school community. We spent a number of hard days painting, scrubbing and decorating the school – and then on the final day took part in a leaving ceremony with performances from the Nepalese children as well as some performances from Barr Beacon pupils.
The second part of the expedition was the ‘relaxation’ phase which took our teams back to Kathmandu for some much needed rest following the hard work they’d already done on their expedition. Pupils got the opportunity to buy their elephant trousers and visit the famous Monkey Temple in Kathmandu. Nothing could have prepared our pupils for the completely different way of life and hustle and bustle of the city. Pupils also had the opportunity to try out traditional Nepalese dishes as they visited restaurants within the city. Dal Bhat is a traditional meal from Nepal. It consists of steamed rice and a cooked lentil soup called dal. We were regularly served this on expedition and project and pupils were even given the opportunity to try cooking it along with MoMo’s a steamed dumpling filled with curried vegetables – it was delicious!
The third part of our expedition was the “trek phase” the part of the expedition which provides pupils with the biggest challenge. Team 1 and Team 2 both faced the gruelling climb to the top in completely different weather conditions. Pupils had to forget any fear of heights when they climber through the breath-taking mountains, seeing stunning scenery as they went. Our amazing porters provided us with excellent food and our accommodation was fantastic; camping on some nights and staying in tea houses on others. During the many kilometres walking we learnt some Nepali and were treated to some traditional music by the porters. Team 1 were lucky enough to see wild Monkeys as they came back down the mountain. Our base before and after the expedition was Pokhara where pupils were able to see a more relaxed way of life as well as the beautiful Phewa Lake. Team 1 even managed to squeeze in a visit to the Peace Pagoda.
Barr Beacon School would very much like to recognise this amazing expedition and commend the pupils from both teams who gave up their time and effort to aid those less fortunate than themselves on the other side of the world.
After a very early morning flight, we arrived in Iceland and went straight to the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Here we began by visiting Gunnuhver, Iceland’s largest bubbling mud pool. The area was full of geothermal steam which stankof rotten eggs!
Later in the day, we visited the magnificent Blue Lagoon. Here we bobbed around in 40°C geothermal waters, with our face masks on and smoothies in hand.
Later in the evening we arrived at the scenic Arhus Cottages, where we had little log cabins overlooking a river.
We started the day by visiting the Lava Centre, where we explored the science of Iceland’s tectonic history and future. We were able to stand on earthquake simulators and see an enormous model of the magma plume underneath Iceland.
Later in the day we visited lots of geographic features including black beaches, waterfalls and a huge glacier! We were shocked to see how much the Sólheimajökull Glacier has receded since 2010 and agreed that we must not deny the effects of global warming.
On our final full day, we went to the very hot and explosive Geysers. Here the Strokkur geyser erupted every 5-8 minutes.
We then had some delicious ice cream from a family run dairy farm.
We finished the day at Þingvellir National Park, where we stood in a rift valley between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. We were very lucky as it was the 100 year anniversary of the National Park, so we caught a glimpse of the Icelandic President and all his dignitaries!
Miss O’Connor and Mr Nunn would like to congratulate all pupils on their impeccable behaviour, enthusiasm in learning all about Iceland and acting as responsible tourists around the island. Our tour guide Karen shared excellent knowledge with us and also commented on how well our pupils represented Barr Beacon
Ulrike Neu - Host a German Teacher
Ulrike Neu: Host a German Teacher Visit
From 4th to 15th June, we at Barr Beacon School were very fortunate to host a colleague from our German-partner school, the Konrad Zuse Schule, in Hünfeld. Frau Neu joined us as a German and English teacher from the vocational school in the German state of Hessen. The visit, arranged through Barr Beacon’s involvement with the UK-German Connection, was a huge success and allowed Frau Neu to not only share but also observe a wealth of best practice around the school and to borrow ideas of the processes she would love to see implemented back at her school in Germany.
There was a great deal of cultural and pedagogical exchange between Frau Neu and the teachers she observed both within the Modern Foreign Languages department and outside the department in English, Maths, History, Health and Social Care, Art and Food. Frau Neu loved seeing our students in uniforms for example – something which her school doesn’t have – and whilst she knows it wouldn’t be a popular decision to implement a uniform back at home, commented not only how smart and professional our students look but also how through their uniform pupils are able to feel a sense of belonging to both their house and our school community.
Whilst at Barr Beacon School, Frau Neu was able to support massively in our German lessons. She supported our Year 10s by conducting speaking exam mocks. This means that they will be able to get a grade for this at the end of term so not only have they experienced what a real exam will be like but they also have an awareness of how they are performing in their spoken German and what clear targets they need to work on going into Year 11. This will be so beneficial to them come next April in the real exams. Further to this, she worked with some of our year 8 students getting them ready to move into German GCSE next year. She supported our Year 12 students with their studies of ‘Goodbye Lenin’, a film set in the East German Republic at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Frau Neu was able to put our students in contact with colleagues of hers who lived in the East of Germany during reunification and could give them their first-hand experience of the themes and issues raised in the film.
Overall it was an extremely inspiring and enriching experience for both our staff and students and Frau Neu fitted in so well to our school community. We have made a superb partnership, which we hope to continue into the next academic year. We thoroughly look forward to sending our students to visit the Konrad Zuse Schule in the future and hope to host Frau Neu back again next year.
Sicily Exchange 2018
Sicily Exchange – 19-23rd March
The Sicilian exchange has completed: Another successful project between the 2 schools with both sets of pupils and staff delighted at the success. Barr Beacon welcomed 9 pupils and 2 staff members for 6 days and 5 nights with excursions to Birmingham, Oxford, Stratford and Warwick to showcase the Midlands to our friends from Nicolsi, Sicily. During their stay they were also fortunate enough to meet the Mayor and his wife for tea and coffee to discuss the project and their experiences so far. The Mayor’s impressive Italian took our guests by surprise and they enjoyed their ’10 minute’ meet…which actually turned into nearly 2 hours! A fantastic experience and one we look forward to every year.
The school would like to thank parents and pupils for being great hosts for the week and all the hard work gone into to making the experience a successful one. It was wonderful to hear all the stories and activities the pupils and parents had organised for their guests.
German Exchange 2018
Tuesday 21st November
We were thrilled to welcome our exchange partners to Barr Beacon school on the evening of Tuesday 21st November. Pupils were thrilled to see each other again and went straight to bowling!
Wednesday 22nd November
This was the German students first day in school. They were greeted for a breakfast in the bistro with members of the Barr Beacon leadership
Before spending p1 and P2 planning their project work. The exchange has been made possible by support from the Uk-German connection. Pupils have been carrying on their campaign for environmental improvement by investigating the issue of pollution in Birmingham. They spent Wednesday afternoon exploring Brindley Place and Grand central. On Wednesday evening they had free time where they were able to visit the Birmingham Christmas Market and partake in some shopping at the Bullring.
Thursday 23rd November
On returning to school, p1 and 2 were spent putting our projects together. Pupils had a quick tutorial from Mr Wall on how to use the editing programmes before cutting the footage from their project work in Birmingham together. P3 to p5 the german pupils were able to visit the Black Country Museum where they learnt about our areas history including the pollution that gave the area its name.
Friday 24th November
We are on our way to London to investigate the issue of pollution there. We are looking forward to taking in some of the famous sights as we make our way around!
This morning was another early start as we had a longer journey today - first to Solfatara about an hour and a half away, before heading off to Pompeii. Solfratara is a volcanic carter that still displays signs of volcanic activity - including a strong smell of sulphur (smells like rotting eggs - delightful), bubbling mud gezers and steam jets shooting out the ground! An extremely interesting and exciting place to visit. Next stop was Pompeii, to see the ruins of the city destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. It was incredible to see the ruins they have uncovered, including houses and buildings almost entirely preserved. It was breathtaking! Heading back to the hotel, we managed to squeeze in a quick hour on the beach before dinner and our trip awards! What a fab ending to a wonderful trip. Our students have been completed everywhere we have been for their politeness and excellent behaviour.
Another early start this morning to head off to the beautiful town of Positano. Set in the hills of the Amalfi Coast, although we had to tackle a very steep walk, the town and the views were beautiful and did not disappoint. Pupils are really enjoying exploring and sampling the local food and drink. Next stop was into Sorrento for more exploring, this time getting to know the town that has been our home for the week. Unsurprisingly we finished our day with a couple of hours on the beach before a meal of Rigatoni back in the hotel. This evening we organised a quiz for the pupils to keep them busy and then everyone was well and truly ready for bed. Big day tomorrow visiting Pompeii!
Our day started bright and early with the 8.55am boat across to Capri. We had a great time exploring both the top and bottom of the island and sampling pasta and gelato of all flavours. The views of the area around Capri were stunning and we even managed to find our way on to another beach! After returning to the hotel for a quick shower and change, it was off to make pizza. First we had to make the dough which is trickier than it looks before we decorated it with our favourite toppings! Of course the best part of the experience was sampling our own pizzas which were delicious obviously! Back to bed now to get some well earned rest!!
After a very early start we made it to Leeds Bradford Airport on time, very excited and in high spirits. Seven hours later, arriving in Naples we were still all having a great time and exciting about finding our hotel. After some amazing views from the coach window - including a glimpse of the isle of Capri which we will be visiting tomorrow, we all settled into our hotel rooms. The remainder of the afternoon has been spent chilling out on our very own private beach, either splashing around in the sea, playing volleyball or sunbathing. A dinner of gnocchi, chicken and ice cream awaited us this evening and after a little bit of time to relax, it was early bed to make up for the sleep we lost travelling and also to prepare us for our early start tomorrow. Having a great time so far!
What an amazing time Barr Beacon School had exploring the wilderness of Norway.
In Easter, a group of 20 pupils travelled to the fjords of Norway. On arrival, we had the opportunity to drive through the snow-capped mountains of Norway whilst peering down into the fjords below. The scenery was epic. We stopped off on route to our luxurious fjord-side log cabins for the opportunity to walk behind the Steindalsfossen waterfall. This 50m high waterfall is one of Norway’s most famous and visited sites.
On our second day we set off full of energy on our hike along the Husedalen Trail. This was a challenging yet rewarding hike that offered us some spectacular sites. We followed the trail along the river and passed four spectacular waterfalls which cascaded from the Hardangervidda National Park. Upon reaching the top we sampled a local Norwegian broth our guides made for us. The Husedalen Trail followed the Kinso valley upstream from our fjord-side base in Kinsarvik. The trail led us from the village into the hills as the land rose up toward the Hardangervidda plateau, Europe’s largest eroded plain.
The most incredible part of the trip for many was the opportunity to don snowshoes and walk up the snow-covered mountains toward the Folgefonna glacier. The weather was snowy and cold, but this made it even more spectacular. We faced with blizzard conditions with snow and hail, making us really feel like Arctic explorers. The instructors said that they had never seen another group of school pupils take such care of each other on the mountain, and we received compliments about personal development and behaviour throughout the week. The guides snowshoe walk took us high into the mountains surrounding Folgefonna National Park offering spectacular views of the snow-covered wilderness and the fjords below.
We also had the chance to take part in rock climbing and zip wiring. First we learned how to climb ‘Via ferrata’ on a cliff face deep in the National Park. Via ferrata literally translated is "iron way". They are routes through what may often appear to be inaccessible ground, opened up by the placing of metal rungs or footplates and protected by a continuous wire cable. Although scary at times, the pupils threw themselves into the challenge and successfully made their way to the top for the reward of the zip wire back down to the forest floor. The adrenalin-fuelled day wasn’t over though, as in the afternoon we had the fantastic opportunity to canoe the Hardangerfjord, the fourth longest fjord in the world.
To finish off our action packed adventure we took the well-earned opportunity for some rest and sightseeing in the historic city of Bergen. This included seeing Bryggen, which contains urban settlements left behind from the middle ages, its beauty fully justifying its place on UNESCO’s World Heritage site list. We also took a ride on the Floibanen Funicular Railway which took us nearly 400m above Bergan for a fantastic panoramic view of the city.
Overall the trip was a fantastic action packed adventure which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Sicilian Exchange 2017
Sicily Exchange Project
Our Sicilian exchange students have arrived!
The pupils took part in the exchange of skills section of the project with our pupils and teachers helping to support the development of their English language. This will help them gain employment in the hospitality industry when they have finished their course at college.
Pupils and teachers visited London so our guests from Sicily could experience our capital city. We took in the sights of Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Camden Town.
The morning session was focused on giving our Sicilian guests a flavour of Birmingham. They visited the new (and impressive) library and even had time for a spot of shopping in the Bull Ring!
Aided by Mr De Salvo, our guests were treated to the Black Country Museum, sampling what life was like in the area over 100 years ago. A real eye opener and another successful day. The leaving meal took place at the most English of restaurants... Toby Carvery! The pupils sampled the delights of a Sunday lunch which went down really well.
An emotional 3am departure for Luton airport where I was told our pupils are already making plans to fly back to Sicily in the summer ...post exams of course!
October 2016 -
"Ciao dalla Sicilia! We are having a fabulous time over here in Catania. We have so far spent two days at the school our hosts attend learning to cook some traditional Sicilian dishes. Our pupils will hopefully be coming home ready to make them for their families. Delicious! We have also taken a trip to Acicastello to walk around the ruins of the ancient castle and enjoy the coast. We can't wait to take on Etna tomorrow!!! Looking forward to seeing everyone back in school on Wednesday!"
17th July – 3rd August 2016
Barr Beacon pupils had the amazing opportunity this summer to take part in an extraordinary expedition to Swaziland in Southern Africa. The itinerary took the pupils well out of their comfort zones and gave them opportunities most can only dream of experiencing. What made this trip even more fulfilling for the pupils that took part is that they raised the money themselves through fundraising activities like abseiling to win their place on the trip!
The expedition was split into 3 parts. The first part took the team deep into the Drakensburg Mountains where the team trekked and wild camped for 4 days. Pupils had to forget any fear of heights when they zip-wired across mountain gorges, seeing stunning scenery, to reach the start point of the trek. During the trek the team had to traverse difficult river crossings and swim mountain lakes whilst carrying all their food, shelter and equipment with them. During the many kilometres walking we learnt how to dance like a Swazi, saw amazing wildlife such as scorpions, zebras and even enjoyed being chased along the river by a troop of Baboons.
The middle stage of our expedition was certainly the most satisfying and the primary reason for this great trip. We visited Majembeni School, a primary school in rural northern Swaziland, where Barr Beacons pupils and staff helped renovate their very dilapidated school. Life expectancy has plummeted by over half in recent years to below 40 due to the terrible disease of AIDS. Many of the pupils in the primary school were orphaned by the disease and had very little in the way of what we would call ‘life’s luxuries’. The staff and the pupils of the School were absolutely thrilled when they received our gifts of stationary and especially excited with the donation of 200 football shirts the team collected through numerous kind donations from the local area and the wider school community. We spent a number of hard days painting, scrubbing and decorating the school – and then on the final day took part in a football match against the children from Swaziland. Huge crowds gathered to watch the first fixture ever played by a Barr Beacon team on the continent of Africa. The final score was no consequence when compared to seeing the smiles on the pupils faces as they lined up in their new School team kit Barr Beacon pupils had donated to them!!
The final stage, known as the ‘relaxation’ phase took us to Hlane Safari Park. Pupils got to see first-hand the conservation efforts put in place by the Swazi people to combat big game hunting. It was a privilege for us to see wild elephants, rhinos, hippos and others up close and personal. I imagine all will never forget being sung to sleep by lions roaring – an interesting lullaby.
Barr Beacon School would very much like to recognise this amazing expedition and commend the following pupils who gave up their time and effort to aid those less fortunate than themselves on the other side of the world; Jacob Wilson, Joshua Mitchell, Amy Stuart, Ciaran Lewis, Jonathan Hunt, Ella Pugh, Amy Brookes, Olivia Thomas, Ben Roberts, Robyn Meredith, Nathan King, Joe Basnett as well as Mr Simmons and Miss Clarke.
“ Seeing the pupils from Majembeni jump up and down with excitement as they ran out of their classroom kitted out in the team kit we donated will forever be a magical memory.” Mr Simmons
"Sawbona! Swaziland, what an amazing county! It's a Yebbo from me!" Ben Roberts
“A phrase that can be overused – but this really was truly a once in a lifetime experience- amazing” Jacob Wilson
“Loved every single second. Best time of my life in the best place with the best people” Robyn Meredith
“Go again in a heartbeat – recommend people to take a challenge” Amy Stuart
“A fabulous feeling - giving back to communities that need it more than we do” OliviaThomas
“Going on this experience of a lifetime has made me appreciate the little things so much more, the little qualms we have seem so insignificant compared to the struggles faced in Swaziland.” Ella Pugh
“To be a meter from a lion in an open top jeep is truly terrifying…” Nathan King
This morning we are going to a local market where pupils will have chance to purchase souvenirs and spend the last of their Euros. This afternoon we are visiting the Catecombs as our final guided tour.
We should be back around midnight at Barr Beacon tonight but will keep you updated by text if there are any changes.
Looking forward to seeing everyone and sharing our stories!
Today we have been to the Coliseum and had a guided tour- pupils we're super engaged by the excellent guide and have loads of pictures to show parents. Later we toured the Roman Forum and finished the day with a visit to the Trevi Fountain which was spectacular!
We have our final 3 course meal tonight at another of the local restaurants. All pupils are enjoying themselves and have been a credit to the school although Mr Ellement's map reading skills have been tested (with little success!) thank goodness for Molly.
Overall we are having a brilliant time and will be sad to leave!
This morning we went site seeing Which included the Spanish Steps and the beautiful Villa Borghese gardens. Later we visited The Vatican City which had some spectacular sites and pupils were mesmerised by the Sistine Chapel in particular.
Off out for another 3 course meal now- all are enjoying the Italian cuisine!
We arrived in Rome all safe and well after a good flight (with a little turbulance!)
One of our first time flyers Faith Foster said, 'I actually enjoyed it, it wasn't that bad!'
After a quick tour on the coach to our hotel we checked in and had a 3 course meal at one of the local restaurants. Food was brilliant!
All are up this morning for breakfast bright and early
Since November 2016 Barr Beacon School has been a proud member of the eTwinning community. We endeavour to send a number of our teachers every year to face to face eTwinning workshops across Europe where colleagues can make connections with teachers from across Europe, learn about how to integrate international projects into our usual curriculum and how to further the international provision we offer our students.
See below to learn more about the different workshops our teachers have been on and how they have used their knowledge to enhance the Barr Beacon experience for our students.
So we sat down and were introduced to our eTwinning hosts, and then had a fun shout out to all the countries represented at the conference met with applause and cheers. There were nine countries at the conference, including Lithuania, England, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia and Poland.
The first meeting was a look at what eTwinning was and what Erasmus+ was. How these help create bridges, what they look like and why we should take part in a project. While our hosts and presenters were all Hungarian they all spoke with incredible English, were accurate with their language and did everything possible to make the experience as useful and enjoyable as possible.
After two hours of lectures we had a break where we again were given snacks, pastries, cakes, hot and cold drinks. However, this time people were coming up to us and talking, asking questions and we were doing the same. Already the ice had broken. I had an idea of what countries I wanted to work with when I had come here, Germany and Poland. While there were no German representatives here there were Polish and so I knew I wanted to go and talk to them to try to get a contact. These were more conversations exchanging pleasantries than trying to create partnerships just yet, more cultural curiosity but it showed me that people here were not just willing but eager to learn and make connections.
We had another hour long conference about industry and the purpose of education in preparing students before having a networking session where we were put into groups to start sharing our ideas and getting to know others. In my group I was the only English person, but everyone spoke English and were keen on asking me if they could use a certain word in a particular sentence. This was an enjoyable time where I learned of other ideas which I wanted to work with and share my idea where people wanted to work with my own project. Some were ideas from literature, physical education, geography but were all interesting.
The second day was again a full on day, packed full of information and break away sessions. We had chosen what we wanted to hear about from several options before the conference so we split off into different groups. I personally went for eTwinning for beginners, and coding – choosing this over virtual reality as I had previous experience with VR within school. Food was once again provided throughout the day and a buffet style lunch at the restaurant was also provided. You felt overwhelmed by information by the end of the third conference but everyone was in good spirits still. We had more time to network and find partners and discuss what we wanted to do with our ideas. This was the time most people formed groups to work on a single project and we all started to understand and begin to plan a project for ourselves. Considering this was day two we had made some great progress, I had come from knowing very little about eTwinning to planning my own project with a school from Lithuania.
At 5pm we had our cultural experience, this was a coach tour of the city where we got to go to some of the main sights and walk around some local tourist attractions. At 7pm we had a boat ride and evening meal up and down the Danube river. This was a perfect end to the day, to explore the city and culture of Hungary was a great way to relax after the long day. On the tour I spent most of my time talking to a Hungarian teacher who told me the history of the city, something I would have been unable to do if I had just visited Budapest.
The third and final day we again had breakfast and conferences in the morning. We looked at what made a good project and again had more networking time to explore ideas and projects, at this point almost all of us had formed groups and partnerships with people or had a solid idea of how to create our own project and how to move forward. Our conference ended earlier than expected, a packed lunch was provided for us and we all said our goodbyes. Me and a few others had some time before our flight so we decided to take one last look around the city, exploring things we had seen on our coach tour before heading off home.
Overall the experience was amazing, and definitely worth getting involved with. The people on the eTwinning project all were there for the same reason, to help their students get a better education and see the world from a different perspective. So while talking to a PE teacher from Portugal about different sports was well outside my comfort zone (as a historian) but the idea of it and what he wanted the students to take away from it was something I could understand and fully see why it would be useful and interesting to take part in.
Once you have been setting up a project or joining one will require work, this is forever the bane of a teacher’s life the ‘work life balance’. So far I have started working with a teacher in Lithuania and we are forming a project together about our respective countries in World War Two. While it is an added work load, it’s something I personally find interesting and I know the students will too. So while a project is more work, setting it up, organising who’s doing what, getting students involved, setting time aside to work together and the emails our partner school. It’s going to be fun and interesting, I personally feel the students will get a lot out of it and hopefully may encourage a love of learning especially in History and of Europe. I’m really looking forward to our collaboration and the opportunities available thanks to the eTwinning project.
Summary of Project
Written in Stone
- 2 Year project involving schools from Lithuania, Turkey, Romania, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, England (Barr Beacon School).
- Project aimed at 12-15yr old pupils (x 10 ideally)
- Pupils will have activities/tasks to complete and present when LTT meetings occur. Our pupils will also contribute to the project website, E-Twinning platform and present to peers over Skype between meetings
- Barr Beacon School’s main contribution is to produce a newsletter on a termly basis with contributions from all participating schools.
Mobility Plan for the project
LTT = Learning Teaching and Training (pupils and staff travel)
TPM = Transnational Project Meeting (Staff travel – Develop project and quality assure work meets the expected outcomes of the project)
What is the project about?
The principal aims of the project "Written in Stone" are to build new relationship among young people in Europe, improve the attainment of young people, and focus on local history, castles and regional stories promoting different styles of teaching. This project will aim to make participants more interested in, and increase their knowledge about, local history and cultural heritage of the region. Taking care of local history is well accepted in our societies, but in the day by day of our schools we may notice that our students, although they really know the region from different perspectives, they do not take this issue as a part of their everyday life. We think that, as much as we are preparing our students for their subsequent academic and professional life, it is also important to educate them on practical skills about culture in past times, local heritage, history of the surroundings and local literature. Once the pupils become more aware of the beauties in their surroundings, they also automatically become conscious of their importance. This will have a definite impact on students´ cultural capital which is at the forefront of what we are trying to promote here at Barr Beacon School.
Tasks & Responsibilities Distribution
How will the tasks and responsibilities be distributed among the partners?
The coordinator of the project - Czech school, will be responsible for the time management, as well as all partner school coordinators. The coordinator of the project will monitor via phone, emails, evaluation forms and meetings the right working on the project. Project schools will be responsible for preparing partners' meeting in their country.
During the first meeting in 2018, all the partners will one more time discuss about the activities and the schedule, we can reform the objectives of evaluation, the time-schedule and the instruments we use when it is needed. At every project meeting we will evaluate the previous period and have to decide about adaptations as function by the evaluation results. Aspects to be evaluated include the construction of activities and tasks, the involvement of pupils, teachers, principals and parents, results and the use of English and ICT.
School coordinators will take care of the process and record it in a progress report.
Task and responsibilities are distributed as below:
· Czech Republic: Coordinator (CLIL methodology, time management, budget, mobility’s, support for the partners who are in Erasmus+ programme or the first time)
· Romania: Collects lesson plans from individual activities, examples of good practise
· England: Language support in termly activities and keeping the project newsletter up to dates
Every result and action from project meetings will be reported to teachers, pupils, parents, on the project webpage, newsletter, media and Erasmus Plus corner/wall. By using a questionnaire for children, parents and staff, we will measure the project results.
At the end of the school year, each school will organize eco - parades with activities to show the progress of the project.
Term 1 - History of Castles
A1 - create a logo of the project (art exhibition, choosing the best logo via webpage)
A2 - organize space at school for Erasmus Plus board
A3 - create and run a project webpage
A4 - getting to know our partners (lap books, videoconference)
A5 - mind maps – Castles in our region
A 6 - prepare an interactive brochure about famous castles in the country
A 7 - start a newsletter about project activities
A 8 - evaluate the data to show what you`ve learnt using ICT tools
Term 2 - Heraldry
A9 - visit a local museum or an archive to learn new information about heraldry
A10 - discovering different types of coat of arms in the castles in region (tour abound the local castles, taking photos of different coat of arms)
A11 compile and analyze data by creating visual aids such as charts and graphs
A12 - choose a coat of arms of a castle in your region, explain its characteristics and display on public (using various ICT tool)
A13 - create a coat of arms of a chosen castle using a technique of mosaic
A14 - teachers prepare lesson plans relevant to the topic
A15 - prepare a peer programme for your classmates about heraldry (craft workshop in English)
A16 - questionnaire application and measuring of the campaign effects (Evaluation 1)
Term 3 - Everyday Life in Castles
A17 - create a comic introducing a day in a castle (king´s view, nobles´ view, peasants´ view…)
A18 - visit a local museum or a library and learn more about crafts in castles
A19 - compile data and create a leaflet using various ICT tools
A20 - make models of catapult and learn more about catapults and trajectory
A21 - organize a competition using catapults
A22 - find the information about food and meal in castles and organize a „medieval feast“
Term 4 - Art in Castles
A23 - visit castles in your region and learn more about stained glass windows
A24 - create a model of a stained glass window at your school
A25 - organize competition of poetry about project theme (at school level and project level)
A26 - visit a museum or an archive and compile data about music in a chosen castle
A27 - make musical instruments and rehearse a “troubadour performance “
A28 - questionnaire application and measuring of the campaign effects
Term 5 - Ghost Stories
A29 - prepare a brochure about typical ghosts of your country (use mother language and English)
A30 - investigate the similarities and differences between your country and other partners („ghost of the county“)
A31- use ICT tools to present your analysis
A32 - learn more about local ghost stories (museum, library, castles, …)
A33 - create an e-book about ghost stories of the region
A34 - organize a „game“ for your classmates on the project topic (board games, adventurous games)
A35 - teachers prepare lesson plans relevant to the topic
Term 6 - Entertainment in Castles
A36 - create and organize a theatre production with a project theme, present to parents (film/puppet show/performance)
A37 - preparing costumes for the performance
A38 - exhibition of object by students for public
A39 - presentation of the final products and conclusions at the school inspectorate and community level
A40 - teachers prepare lesson plans relevant to the topic
Why are we doing this Erasmus project?
To foster communication, collaboration, critical thinking/problem solving and creativity skills. These “C4 skills” or “21st century skills” will provide pupils with better opportunities in their future education and work life which will also meet the needs for a better economy and society in general.
For updates, pictures and contributions from the schools involved, please visit the Project website below:
November 2019 Hosts Needed
Host an International Student
Host an international student for 2 weeks and earn £280
To find out more information regarding hosting an international student for 2 weeks or more please keep checking back here for future updates.
It’s exciting to hear that your child is keen to join the Barr Beacon School expedition team to Malaysia in July 2020. Miss Clarke has an information pack for your child to bring home about the trip, and if you click on the pictures below you will be able to watch the “Safety” and “Our traveller” videos that were played as part of the information evening.
A previous team made this video of their expedition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHJwPe-g56AMalaysia is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, and it has excellent travel opportunities and fascinating cultures for a student led expedition. While in Malaysia the team will trek deep into the ancient rainforests. They will take part in a turtle conservation project learning endangered species and getting stuck in to help make a positive difference.
The Cost of the 2 week expedition is £2990. This includes Flights to and from Malaysia, all transport during the expedition in country, all accommodation costs (tents are provided), all food, a 2 day training weekend in the UK next year, full safety and backup including expedition leaders, and comprehensive medical insurance. Other costs to consider include personal kit and equipment, e.g. clothing, rucksack and boots, pre-departure withdrawal insurance, vaccinations and Visas, kit insurance, UK transport and pocket money for treats and souvenirs (max £100).
A tradition has grown at World Challenge over the last 30 years for students to raise as much of their own expedition fee as they can themselves. Popular ideas include getting a part time job, baby-sitting, mowing lawns, making and selling things at Christmas craft fayres or bake sales, team car washes, supermarket bag-packing or big theme nights.
There will be meetings in school to help with organising fundraising events for the expedition fee. It is important that your child has some ideas of their own too, as we can’t do it for them. World Challenge have lots of resources and ideas on the members area of our website to help your child with their fundraising, which you will have access to if they sign up.
If, after looking through the information, you would like your child to participate, please apply following the instructions below or on the paper application form in the information pack by the 22nd November.
Verify your email address by clicking the link in the verification email we send you.
Complete the online application in full and pay your first instalment, you will have full access to My World Challenge straight away.
There is lots more information in the pack your child will be bringing home, if you have any questions or would like to discuss any aspect of the expedition please call our customer support team on 01494 427600.
Dig deeper and discover the diversity of this tropical peninsular. See the towering buildings of a modern Kuala Lumpur one day, roam through colonial tea stations in the Cameron Highlands the next, then volunteer on a turtle conservation project. There’ll also be the opportunity to go white water rafting along the Kampar River. Oh, and did we mention the incredible food, flourishing markets and incredible hospitality? It’s that time of year again and Barr Beacon School is offering pupils the opportunity to experience the wonders of Malaysia in 2020. Stay tuned for more information.