Half term went in the blink of an eye for everyone involved with UCC I suspect.
School was open for the entire 5 days of the holidays with Art and English GCSE revision classes running. Over 100 students reaped the benefit of the extra help and, despite the interruption of the well-earned break the time spent on extra classes will pay dividends in the summer.
Of course, half of the school was on tour elsewhere during the week too – either in mainland Europe or the capital city.
The Art Department set off, on the Tuesday before half term, on their annual artistic pilgrimage – via Eurostar – to Paris, where students visited the Musée Picasso, Musée de l’Orangerie, Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, the Galeries Lafayette, the Pompidou Centre, the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, the Musée de la Mode et du Textiles, the Musée Rodin, the Musée d’Art Moderne and the Eiffel Tower, before setting off back to Penrith via the Gare du Nord and St Pancras.
At 2.45 a.m. on Saturday 14 February, 20 Year 10 and 11 students set off on the long journey by air to Berlin with members of the History Department. The visit included the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building, the Holocaust Memorial, a concentration camp, a nuclear bunker, Check Point Charlie and variety of other exhibitions. They sampled local delicacies such as currywurst and pretzels as well as a wide variety of German pastries. They returned to the UK and Penrith via the Berlin Zoo, which – judging by the number of Twitter messages – was clearly a high point for students.
On Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 February, French teacher Miss Dale set off with nine Year 12 and 13 A-level French students to Paris. The visit included staying with Parisian families – a daunting experience because there was no escape from speaking French. During the trip they visited the Champs Elysees, climbed the Eiffel Tower, braved the top of the Tour Montparnasse and visited the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. All students had a fantastic time, and improved their French too.
On Monday 16 February, Mr Bryant organised a Music Department tour to the capital city London, Fifty-three students and 6 staff performed in “the Actors’ Church”, Covent Garden and the Abbey Centre in Paddington. The trip also included ice-skating and bowling, as well as taking in the West End production of Wicked, a trip on the Thames and the London Eye. There was also the opportunity for a talent contest and the chance to celebrate the contributions of a number of Year 11 and 13 students who leave the department and the school after several years involvement with this fabulous department. Plans are now in progress for a trip to Paris in 2016.
As we return to school, you’d think things would settle down to a more predictable pattern – far from it. We had a visit by Jan Renou, the North of England Schools’ Commissioner, on Monday 23 February. She told me how impressed she was with what she managed, in her brief visit, to see of UCC and commented in particular on the warm relationships and total commitment by pupils she saw here.
Coming shortly – on 26 and 27 February 2015 – Physics staff are taking 17 sixth form students on a visit to CERN in Geneva, the home of the large hadron collider. A marvellous opportunity to see the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator – most recently in the news for shedding further light on the properties of the Higgs Boson.
As for Headteachers – what do they spend their time doing during half term holidays? Well this time I had 18 tonnes of manure to spread –by fork – to get ready for the new growing season! At least that’s a change from the normal term-time activities.
Overall the trip was fantastic, the students were lovely, one of the best groups we’ve ever taken; the hotel staff even complimented us about them when we left, which has never happened before.
We met up at penrith railway station at 5.40a.m. on Tuesday 10th November. A quickish journey to London Euston and then a short walk to London St. Pancras, we had a little time before check in, but just enough for a quick wander round the shops and a toilet stop. Checking in was easy, but passport control was a bit of a nightmare for Diana Wokhukukwa; they didn’t like her passport so hauled both her and me off to a room which lots of people speaking French and making telephone calls. At one point I didn’t think they were going to let her through and I was thinking how I could pay for her to get back on the train up to Penrith. Thankfully, eventually they let her through.
The Eurostar is fantastic; it’s pretty unbelievable that it only takes 2 hours 20 minutes. Another shortish walk to the hotel from Gare du Nord, students given a bit of time to settle and then straight back out on the metro. I’d already pre-bought 5 day travel cards for everyone so it was easy for us all to use the metro. We went down to the Latin Quarter to soak up a bit of the Parisian atmosphere and to eat out. We also met up with an old student Joe James, who’s younger sister Megan James was on our trip. It was great to meet up that evening to have a meal as it was there birthday that day, they unusually share the same birthday, and by some quirk it was Megan’s 18th birthday and Joe’s 21st; quite a night to remember for them.
The next day we started off drawing at Notre Dame and then walked up to Musee Picasso. It was a beautiful sunny day. It was a bit of a coup getting into the Picasso; it only re-opened last October after being shut for 6 years. When planning back in England, they refused us entry as a group several times, but I found a loophole on their website, so I posed as three different people and managed to get enough tickets for us to all get in. It was outstanding; you could easily spend several days there, the range and quality of work and display is pretty exceptional. Back on the metro to the next gallery, Musee de l’Orangerie. The Orangerie holds the 360 degree massive Monet paintings and also a great collection of post-impressionist works, all set in a beautiful building in the Tuileries. Back to the hotel and then out again for the evening to Sacre Coeur and up the steep and numerous steps. The view at night of Paris from Sacre Coeur is wonderful and gives the students a great experience of looking down and across at Paris. A quick walk round the corner to Montmatre to eat out and see where the post-impressionists used to meet.
The next day started with a visit to Galeries Lafayette and then on to the Brancusi studio outside the Pompidou Centre. Then into the main galleries at the Pompidou Centre which hold a vast collection of contemporary art. We left late afternoon and took a short metro journey to Musee des Arts Decoratifs and the Musee de la Mode et du Textile which had a stunning fashion exhibition focused around buttons. They had pulled together costumes from the last 200 years with particularly interesting button detailing. It was also special because they hold many original drawings by a whole host of couturier designers which they were then able to display next to the actual item of clothing. We then took a quick trip to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees to see them at night, and then back to the hotel to eat locally and collapse.
Another beautiful sunny day on Friday and a start at Musee Rodin; students are always surprised just how contemporary Rodin is and how much then enjoy seeing his work set in beautiful surroundings. Another shortish walk to the Eiffel tower to go up and eat locally. In the afternoon we walked from the Eiffel tower along and over the Seine to Musee d’Art Moderne, our last gallery visit. This gallery is huge and houses a very strong collection of major 20th and 21st century artist’s work.
The last day in Paris on Saturday was a little damp but we started by revisiting Notre Dame so we could climb to the top and see the view. Although it was wet, a bonus of the weather is that we saw the famous Notre Dame gargoyles working, spouting the water away from the building. Our last trip was then on to the flea market area in the north of Paris. It was visually stunning and stylistically very French but unfortunately horrendously expensive.
Back to the hotel, and on to Gare du Nord and a quick journey back to London. Laughably we then had to transfer to a coach as there were rail works that weekend. The coach journey from London to Penrith took almost 3 times as long as getting from Paris to London, and we arrived back at UIlswater at quarter to one Sunday morning.
Head of the Creative Arts Faculty
UCC Music Department are going on their first music tour in fifteen years to London. We will be going from Monday 16th to Thursday 19th February and we will be performing music from the UCC Big Band, Wind Band, UCCO, Keyboard & Guitar Group, Brass Quintet and UCC Singers as well as solo and small group performances including the band Zig Zagg. If you want to hear what we will be performing then why not come along to London: The Concert in Cumberland Hall on Tuesday 10th February starting at 7pm; tickets are £5 for adults and £4 for concessions. If you cannot make this then why not consider buying a London Tour album, featuring 7 tracks all for the cost of £3 or a one time promotion, 2 for £4.
We look forward to bringing you more news from the London Tour!
Next year, 42 students and five staff will depart for Cape Town on 15th July and will spend 15 days touring, sightseeing, training, competing at U14 and 15 level Rugby fixtures against School sides before finishing the tour with a three day stay at Mabula Game Reserve to rest, relax and see the wildlife.The South Africa Rugby Tour satellite site will provide all of the necessary information and news for our tourists, parents, community friends and sponsors and is accessible here.
On Monday, UCC welcomed another visitor to speak to the Sixth Form. The talk was from Richard Barnes who introduced Amnesty International to the students in an emotive and inspirational presentation. Richard has much experience in human rights matters, as well as in presenting the work of Amnesty International, and so had many valuable insight to share with the students present. To find out more about Amnesty International you can visit their website here. You can also view footage from Richard's presentation in the film below.