Year 7 Visits

On a humid summer morning, animated and eager Year 7 students boarded the coach for a memorable trip to Whipsnade Zoo as part of the Year 7 Activity Week. On arriving at Whipsnade, students were split into small groups, and had the freedom to venture around the zoo in their groups. While at the zoo, we learned about the adaptations of different animals and how evolution has enabled them to survive in their habitats. The zoo also demonstrated to us how the animals are treated by human beings and what is causing their numbers to decline. I personally learnt a lot about how the things we do to improve our lives are preventing animals from living healthy lives.

Our trip offered us a wide range of activities that some of us hadn’t had the opportunity to experience previously - these included feeding the towering giraffes, experiencing a mind-blowing sea lion performance and watching the unforgettable penguins relish the blistering midday sun and the attention of the visiting students. Whipsnade Zoo was one of the best trips we have had this year and I am yearning to visit again!

On Friday, students travelled to Bletchley Park to be transported back in time and learn about the efforts to break the Enigma Code in World War II.

We learnt that Bletchley Park was situated where it was because it was such an inconspicuous site, and the likelihood of it being bombed was very low. Yet it was close enough to London for them to get information there quickly. It was also half way between Oxford and Cambridge so it had access to the best mathematicians and linguists to aid in the codebreaking.

We were told how most of the work was done by women, and were surprised to hear that Alan Turing wasn’t necessarily the most important person at Bletchley. There were less famous heroes like Tommy Flowers who designed and built the famous Colossus, the world’s first programmable computer.

There was also an exciting code breaking activity using multiple ciphers. This involved us breaking code using Morse and Pigpen, which were some of the ciphers we learnt about. We also got to touch an actual Enigma Machine!

We also visited the historic Frogmore Paper Mill in Hemel Hempstead. Frogmore is home to the oldest working paper making machine - it is over 100 years old! In fact, Frogmore was the birthplace of paper as we know it today; before this, all paper was handmade and expensive. The paper machine called the “Fourdrinier” revolutionised the way paper was manufactured and changed our relationship with paper. This new paper industry created cheap paper and made products available to everyone, and more importantly, provided many job opportunities. Frogmore Mill is proud of its paper heritage, saying: “At Frogmore Paper Mill we celebrate the huge contribution that paper has played in shaping the world in which we live today."

Today, Frogmore is an educational centre, an important historic landmark, a cultural community hub and even a film set! It provides not only a complete living history of the paper making process but courses on everything paper related, from drawing and book binding to the printing process.

The day involved being taught about printing, learning how to make paper by hand, having a tour of the mill and finally learning about the importance of the canal. The best part of the day for me was the paper boat race. Using the paper that we had made, we had 15 minutes to make a paper boat filled with paper people. The competition was decided by which boat could make it to the end of the course first, without getting the paper people wet.

Year 8 Visits

For Year 8, the end of half term heralded a new programme of school trips and adventures. On Thursday the students packed themselves into coaches and travelled up to Birmingham to visit the Black Country Living Museum.

It was well worth the journey: everyone enjoyed the visit. From the 1800’s method of making metal chain to being in the depths of the mine, appreciating the hardships and (few) joys that our ancestors experienced, which was amazing!

The next day, Year 8 split up across the county for a day of work experience, discovering the myriad of jobs that keep the country running. From office and administrative jobs to teaching and driving tractors, we all had the opportunity to glimpse into the future and gain a fascinating insight into some of the paths we could walk in a few years.