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 2017
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” Olivia Thomas
“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