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.