Saturday, 04 December 2021

Pupils’ busy year outside class in spite of pandemic

PUPILS at Gillotts School in Henley have enjoyed a range of extracurricular activities over the past year despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff at the secondary in Gillotts Lane have been praised for helping keep the students going between the second and third lockdowns in the winter and early spring.

Students were sent home to learn remotely, although some activities were able to continue online.

Thirty students in year 11 recently completed their Duke of Edinburgh’s silver award after taking part in an expedition of three days and two nights spent camping outdoors.

The pupils hoped to do this earlier in the year but couldn’t because of the covid-19 restrictions.

They had to plan routes through the countryside and complete them without adult supervision.

The school’s bronze award students, who have just finished year 10, completed their expeditions in October and 26 have received the award.

Students in year 9 worked towards bronze by taking part in voluntary activities including dance and musical instrument lessons or learning skills such as first aid and sign language.

In May, the school launched a weekly eco-club at the suggestion of Olivia Samyui-Adams, 11, with support from her mother Julia.

Members of the club are currently overhauling the school’s gateway garden and plan to grow edible produce and plants that will attract birds, bees and butterflies.

Meanwhile, a competition to recreate famous films on a budget was won by year 9 drama students Luc Jones and Lawrence Lewis, who re-enacted Sully and Happy Gilmore using home-made props and costumes.

One year 8 pupil won a competition staged in partnership with pharmaceutical company Bayer to design a lab coat.

Amelia Butler, Anna Wilbrink and Amelie Griffiths, from year 9, reached the national final of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Innovate design technology challenge.

The year 7 robotics team took part in a programme to design, build and program a Lego robot while one pupil reached the final of the national Leaders Award engineering challenge.

A competition to decorate a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, held over Christmas, was won by Ruby Coyne and Freya Kriefman, while Emily Williams won the school’s Great Easter Bake Off contest.

The school revived its “virtual games” tournament for its new year 7 pupils in September and a virtual run, walk or cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats took place in January.

A series of inter-house sports competitions, including marathon races, mixed netball and rugby, were won overall by Darwin house, with Pankhurst and Orwell placed second and third.

Felix Richardson (year 8) and Mathilde Williams (year 10) were named the school’s musicians of the year while Amelie Holden and Eloise Seery, both in year 8, were highly commended.

Other activities included a Christmas collection for the Henley food bank and a series of reading and baking challenges.

Headteacher Catharine Darnton said: “It has been an extraordinary year and none of these could have happened without the ingenuity, commitment, creativity and sheer dedication of our staff who have gone above and beyond in so many ways. I thank them all — it’s an incredible team.”

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