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’
Prague - Written in Stone
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
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 Visit
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 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