News from The Kings of Wessex Academy

Students get focused on Focus Day

8th October, 2018 by Jude Owens

There was an extra buzz around school on the last Friday of September when students at The Kings of Wessex Academy were off timetable for the day for their first Focus Day of the school year.

Students from all year groups chose from a list of activities across all the subjects that offered a broader and deeper curriculum beyond the requirements of the National Curriculum in a more informal setting and there were some very well crafted sessions and students enjoyed doing something different in their chosen activities and helping each other across the different year groups. Here is a selection now.

In English, House teams completed a treasure hunt with clues around the school whereby a Sixth Form student was waiting with an extract from a literary text. The literary treasure hunters then completed a quiz for each extract and returned to English HQ once they had found all five extracts. Avalon were the first team back with the highest score in the quiz. Next was a screening of the opening of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ to inspire a piece of creative writing and students could either use the film screening or the extracts from the treasure hunt to spark an idea for their own writing. The Sixth Form English aficionados judged the writing and Kate Darley (Tintagel) was voted the winner. Here is her evocative writing now:

The claret red and amber flames began to grow like weeds on an abandoned tomb. Trees were collapsing, giving up to the torture of the heat. I could see the animals reaching and climbing the trees to escape the clasp of the inferno. The smoke was burning my throat as I grasped for air. The fresh green of the leaves were shrivelling away and transforming into thick black ash. The beautiful colours of the jungle were fading away into the fire. I waded my way around – squinting because of the smoke stinging my eyes. I finally reached a lake. I dived in, not thinking of the dangers beneath the water. Suddenly, I felt something on my foot and I was dragged down into the darkness below…

Subject Leader for Physics Mrs Tincknell devised a very realistic CSI session in which “Cheddar SI” used Forensic Science and Psychology skills to uncover the identity of a murder from amongst a line-up of staff. There were six suspects and investigators reviewed all the evidence to build a complete picture undertaking activities; including fibre matching, chemical analysis of powders found at the scene, fingerprint analysis and a psychological analysis of the crime scene and Police interviews. There were a few red herrings along the way, but the students correctly identified that the weight of evidence pointed to Teacher of Physics Mr Smith, who was read his rights and lead away at the end of the morning.

In Art the theme of the day was to ‘express yourself’ when students were introduced to the work of Rex Ray and created their own work of art. Everyone selected a colour palette and had fun experimenting with layering acrylics and stencilling techniques, including spray paint. In the final stages of the workshop all the artists were busy adding their finishing touches and celebrating their achievements.

French and German music could be heard in the Languages Breakfast Café, which was soon abuzz with budding young linguists putting their creative skills to use by designing party plates to promote cultural and linguistic diversity. The more foreign language words used, the more House points were awarded on the students’ individual House loyalty cards. The next activity provided students with the chance to engage in authentic conversations with their waiters and waitresses by ordering croissants, pain au chocolat, Berliner (doughnuts) and fruit juices from their menus. Once again, extra points were awarded to students who continued to chat with their hosts and fellow students in French or German and some students showed real flair by shifting from one conversation to the other in different languages - bravo! The morning ended with The Great Big Language Quiz in which students competed against each other to see who knew the most about French and German history, geography, politics, idioms, food, popular music and even the economy. The students were so enthusiastic and keen to participate in the activities and put their language skills to use.

In Humanities, students worked through various activities as a sort of Escape Room challenge to escape the Humanities classrooms. In H1 they found themselves faced with numerous puzzles and riddles that helped them decipher codes to the next puzzle in order to escape the room. Their Anglo-Saxon geographical knowledge was put to the test as they had to work through map puzzles, co-ordinates, match countries, capital cities and flags and solve the geographical riddles to reveal the answers to escape the room.

In H2 students were faced with more challenging riddles and mazes and had to navigate to escape, with their creativity tested when they were required to make an Anglo-Saxon crown or helmet. In RE1, their Anglo-Saxon knowledge was again put to the test through six challenges working out Anglo-Saxon superstitions and cures, facts and fiction and identifying some Anglo-Saxon artefacts. They matched the Anglo-Saxon Gods to the days of the week and used Lego to recreate an Anglo-Saxon palace. The Humanities teachers had so much fun and appreciated how hard and wonderfully well all the students worked together in their Houses!

The Focus in Business Studies was “Innovation” and having explored some of the best and worst innovations on the market students worked in teams of four to create the perfect festival poncho. Teams were given very basic resources, but demonstrated bucket loads of creativity in their amazing creations! From the ten teams, the Sixth Form judges narrowed it down to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place; which was no easy task as every team came up with unique, practical and fun attire, modelled beautifully by one team member and pitched perfectly to the eagle-eyed judges. The Business Studies teachers were very impressed on so many levels and it was fantastic to see the students working collaboratively on their design with such passion and enthusiasm. As a result, there was no shortage of focus and House points galore were awarded!

Some activities were edible and in Food Technology the theme was ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ when the students donned their aprons to make their own pasta. They rolled their pasta dough and then trimmed into lots of different types of pasta - linguine, spaghetti, fettucine and the extra test was to choose ingredients to make a tasty sauce. The students were really hungry by the end of the session!

Executive Headteacher Gavin Ball said:

“Focus Days are an invaluable part of our participation agenda at Kings and looking beyond the National Curriculum to ensure learning is exciting to inspire students’ learning. Well done and thank you to everyone for a very good Focus Day début and a big thank you to all the Subject Teams for their organisation!”

Plans are afoot for future Focus Days to concentrate on life skills, learning to learn, global issues and employability.