Although we know that many pupils tell their parents all about what they having been studying and doing at school, not every child is so forthcoming. Therefore so that you all know what your child has been up to in the last term and what plans there are for next term, you can now visit this new page providing the latest news from the Lower Secondary Class. The page will be updated regularly with new information.
If you have any specific queries concerning this class or your child please speak to or email the class leader Nicholas.
Lower Secondary February 2017
This term sees us exploring unusual lifestyles ,including the amazing herald Solheim, still inhabiting a cabin in Svalbard after thirty nine years of living alone! We are considering human relationships with others, with animals and with the self. We are exploring how our understanding of language can deepen our understanding of how we perceive ourselves and others. Technical sessions looking at functional English skills underpin Language Development work and accompany our ‘reading for meaning’ work.
We have been very busy in English Literature and have read some great novels. We started the school year with John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice & Men’. This term we have been focusing on novels about colonialism as we have been studying the ‘Scramble for Africa’ in History. We began by considering colonialism from the African point of view with Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’. We are now taking in the European perspective, albeit an anti-colonial one, in Joseph Conrad’s timeless classic ‘The Heart of Darkness’. As always, all three novels have produced some highly advanced discussions in class as well as some excellent essays.
The class has started to work from a new GCSE textbook, following the new GCSE format of applying skills learnt to solve problems. We began with new ways to describe number sequences, found multipliers for direct proportion and met inverse proportion. A lot of time was spent on percentages – finding percentage increases and decreases, performing reverse percentage calculations, and looking at both compound and simple interest. Venn diagrams were used to look at Sets – a new topic for this new style GCSE.
Our work on shape included revising areas of shapes in order to progress onto volumes of prisms. And the class enjoyed using chocolate to look at loci, before using the skills to draw constructions with a ruler and compasses.
We finished the term revising non-calculator methods to solve problems. After Christmas we will revise negative numbers to help us factorise quadratic equations.
During the Autumn term we have continued with the GCSE syllabus. We have studied C1 Air and Water, including dealing with data, pollution, energy levels in reactions, balancing equations, climate change and potable water. The students gave presentations on reducing air pollution, and we did several practicals, including some required for the syllabus.
In the Spring term we are studying more of P1 Radiation and Waves, including calculating wave speed with a ripple tank. We will study B2 Keeping Healthy and we are planning a microbiology trip to Southampton University.
In History we are reaching the end of the 19th century. Last term we studied one of the main European cultural movements of the 19th century, Romanticism. We also studied the Crimean War, German Unification, Italian Unification, Victorian Britain, and Louis Napoleon’s (a French 19th century Trump) 2nd Empire and the end of Serfdom in Russia.
This term in Cultural and Political History we have studied the impact of Social Darwinism and Marxism. We then moved onto to study the US Civil War, the Scramble for Africa, the Boer War and European Imperialism in Asia.
All our work on the 19th century is principally designed to provide the key background knowledge to the 20th century which we will look at in real depth from half term onwards.
We continue to look at Development and what makes some countries rich and others poor. We have looked at how Globalisation is increasingly affecting our lives in both good and bad ways. We will soon be embarking on the GCSE course!
This has been a new subject for this class, replacing Religious Studies. It’s fair to say that Psychology has already become a hugely popular subject in Lower Secondary. We have had some excellent class discussions as we have studied the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. We will move onto considering the different branches of Psychology over the next half of term.
After finishing the case study on the ‘Day of the Dead’, we will be starting something completely different. Our new project for this term is all about ‘Colour’. We will be looking at primary, secondary and tertiary colours, learning how to mix them and produce a colour wheel. We will also be looking at colour theory –warm /cool colours, colour association and how artists use colour to depict feeling and emotions within their work. Artists include Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miro and Mark Rothko.
The first half of last term we learned about the 12 bar blues and how to play a blues. The second half of the term as Lower Secondary have become my ‘backing band’ for the big closing number of the Upper School Christmas Celebrations, we practised extremely hard on learning What The World Needs Now (Is Love Sweet Love) in the key of C minor/Eb major. The whole class performed it brilliantly.
This term we have embarked on an epic project – the history of synthesisers. We have looked at the development of the instruments, their use and influence as well as pioneering artists and dance forms such as techno. We are going to be creating our own synth-pop – inspired by some of the artists we’ve met along the way, and hopefully visiting a local studio that has a good collection of synths.
The pupils in Lower Secondary have been making outstanding progress this year. Now that they are all in their second year of secondary school their level of maturity is something to behold at times – not always of course, they’re still kids after all! The highly articulate and thoughtful discussions this class is now able to have is so satisfying to witness. There is very strong sense of ethical intelligence in this class that some of our politicians could certainly learn from. Here are some of the topics they have been studying and discussing in each subject this term.
This term will concentrate very much around metacognition and ‘self awareness’ around learning. There will be a significant emphasis around meeting requirements of tasks set…for example, knowing what a question requires to formulate an appropriate answer/response. I will also be presenting lots of comprehension pieces in order to work on deepening the understanding of text and the skills of inference.
We completed our study of Lord of the Flies and watched Peter Brook’s adaptation. We had some great class discussions on the struggle between civilisation and savagery. We then plotted the descent into savagery that occurs in the novel and the pupils produced some excellent essays on this topic.
Next school year we will be studying Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – Michael Gove may have removed this thought provoking novella from the GCSE course, but that doesn’t stop us studying it pre-GCSE!
We have looked at translations and enlargements to complete our work on transformations. Other work on shape included using compasses and protractors to construct 2D shapes, and the everyday application of using angles for bearings and scale drawings. Another application was to look at the nets of cuboids and calculate their surface areas. Number work included powers and indices for standard form, squares and square roots for Pythagoras’ Theorem, and trial and improvement. Algebra was revisited to solve equations and to analyse number sequences.
Next year we will be studying vectors and proportionality.
In the summer Lower Secondary studied Variation and Inheritance including genetics and selective breeding. They gave presentations on classification and we studied evolution and mutations. This term we will add to this unit to complete the first GCSE unit of B1 You and Your Genes, including genetic engineering and ethical decisions.
Next we will study C1 Air and Water, including the Earth’s atmosphere, temperature changes in chemical reactions and climate change. We will add to their work last year on radiation to complete the GCSE unit P1 Radiation and Waves.
Last term we studied the 1830 revolutions that swept across Europe as well as the Chartist movement which slowly but surely brought much needed reforms to Britain.
Next term we will be looking at the 1848 revolutions as once again Europe tried to move into a more democratic, modern age. After this we will be taking a break from political history and study cultural history with an exploration of Romanticism.
Last term we started looking at Rivers including the Water Cycle. We continued with the topic this term and went on a field trip to study the stream behind school which is a tributary of the Beaulieu River. We are currently looking at flooding in Bangladesh and we will end the term looking at flooding in the UK.
Last term we studied the development of Christianity and its different branches. We considered the notion of ‘sacred space’ both in terms of religious buildings and outside space and what ‘sacred’ may mean to groups and individuals.
Next term we will be considering the gods and myths of The Romans and their links with the gods of both The Ancient Greeks and The Celts.
Last term we enjoyed focussing on and creating all sorts of literary techniques, most notably creating tension in a piece of writing and taking antonyms and synonyms to the extreme!
During the summer term we shall continue extending our personal reading using our DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read). In addition to this, through the novel by Judith Kerr “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” we will continue our journey exploring punctuation, spelling, grammar, literary techniques, debates, discussion and presentations.
We completed our study of Hard Times, both struggling with and enjoying the language. When we come to study 19th century literature at GCSE the pupils will be familiar with the rather verbose, but also poetic style.
We have now started the considerably more accessible Lord of the Flies by William Golding. We are enjoying studying how Golding brings the island to life and gradually builds tension to the climatic ending. We have also had some great class discussions on human nature and our all too human attempts to weild power with equanimity.
The class has been performing calculations both with and without calculators, learning how to use some new buttons. Dividing by decimals such as 0.1 produced some surprising answers, as did multiplying by fractions such as 1/100. We have revised prime numbers and how to write a number as a product of primes, and revised averages, scatter graphs and pie charts. The statistics helped us analyse the results of a questionnaire. We also looked at how data is collected and thought about what makes a question a good question. Our work on transformations will continue into next term. Having looked at tessellations, symmetry and reflections, and rotations, we still need to translate shapes and to start looking at combinations of these transformations.
We have been continuing are epic exploration of Evolution and how profoundly it changes our world. We completed our evolutionary timeline and have been watching and discussing in detail David Attenborough’s beautiful ‘Rise of the Mammals’ series, which shows all the major evolutionary steps leading to the advent humans. Throughout our study of evolution comes the understanding that every single life form on this planet is connected and shares common ancestors. We have also discovered that this evolution does not just happen over immense periods of time but also occurs in our lifetime. For instance the early foetal stage of a human is looks almost exactly the same as any other animal!
We completed Crude Oil and Fuels, including studying air pollution. The students prepared and gave presentations on alternative energy sources. We looked at the rock cycle. We then studied Radiation, including waves. The students carried out practicals to see how light behaves, we looked at the electromagnetic spectrum and radioactive isotopes.
In the summer term we will study Health, Disease and the Immune System. This includes cells, pathogens, barriers to infection, white blood cell actions, vaccines and medicines.
We considered the seismic but ultimately failed attempts of humanity to modernise and democratise that took place in the mid-19th century. Consequently we have been looking at the economic and political systems of the 19th century and the emergence of the reform movements that eventually led to the development of the political left through socialism, humanism and communism.
We will be looking at the key reformist and political thinkers of the 19th century as well as the 1830 and 1848 revolutions.
Last term we studied Population; where people live in the world and why, the reasons for differences in birth & death rates, life expectancy and infant mortality. We were inspired by watching clips of the amazing Hans Rosling who brings statistics to life! We researched and examined our own families birth rates and although our sample size was small, it did prove the hypothesis that fertility rates have reduced over time.
This term we have continued looking at population and in particular China’s controversial One Child Policy. We are going to study Migration next; the reasons why people move, the impacts of this migration and what being ‘British’ means to different people.
All work we do in R.E is mindful of human spiritual consciousness and how it has developed into ‘organised religious thinking’. This term we will be thinking about the development of Christianity and its different branches. I will also be considering the notion of ‘sacred space’ both in terms of religious buildings and outside space and what ‘sacred’ may mean to groups and individuals.
This term we will be continuing with our chair design project. Looking at historical and contemporary examples of chairs and exploring ideas through drawing and maquette making. The final outcome for this project will be to produce a scaled model of the students chosen chair design in resistant materials ie wood, metal, wire, plastic or cardboard.
Lower Secondary have once again worked extremely well in their weekly music classes. We have kept the momentum of playing together as a class ensemble through both of the terms.
This term we have focused on slowly learning Terry Riley’s minimalist masterpiece, In C. This piece consists of a single page score with 53 fragments which the players move through, repeating each roughly 40 seconds to a minute’s worth. There is also a percussion section which keeps the ensemble in time and Harry and Tara were very good here. It took us the whole two terms to learn the whole piece and we played it all the way through for the first time (it takes about 45 minutes) in our final music lesson before Easter, with some additional percussion help from my son Liam as well as Emma Chesters joining us in the string section. Before we entirely leave this project I want to organise a lunch time performance so we can share our hard work. I will let parents/families know as soon as possible.
We have experienced Sanish Language putting ourselves in situations as realistic as possible: using real fruit and vegetables to create our small market; clothing garments to create our own boutique, or setting up a restaurant table and menu. This way we worked on the vocabulary, the pricing in Euros, and gave ourselves the chance to practice the language needed to communicate in these situations through roleplay.
Spanish historic traditions and cultural higlights such as ‘Procesiones de Semana Santa’ (Processions in the Holy Week) have been mentioned all the way through, and we will still do this in this last term.
Now we are exploring more into ourselves. We have created our Spanish ID card (equivalent to passport for EEA countries) and we are working on the things we would say about ourselves when we are getting to know others. We listen to some examples to open up to pursuing understanding. Then we use word cards to create the sentences in the grammatical Spanish order and we then practice conversation in couples and groups. We will also work on descriptive language, what we like and what we don’t like, while we pay closer attention to the Phonetics in the Spanish Language.
We learnt a lot about mental health and stigma in the Spring term, had a visit from a lady who spent 5 years studying chimps in Sierra Leone and in recognition of International Women’s Day, looked at gender inequality and women who have changed the world. Summer term we will be creating elephant exhibits following a talk on their plight. The exhibition will be in the Autumn in aid of the David Sheldrick Trust.
We have thoroughly enjoyed using set techniques and templates for both poetry and prose. We have enjoyed showing off our work on the outstanding work board, as there have been some fabulous poems.
During next term we are embarking on some more complex literary techniques within a variety of chosen texts.
This term we have been studying Charles Dickens’ classic novel ‘Hard Times’. This ties in with our study of the Industrial Revolution in History. It is also to prepare pupils for the new English GCSEs, which now require the compulsory study of 19th century literature. Although the language of Dickens is not immediately accessible the plot most certainly is and as with all truly rewarding works of art the class have been experiencing the thrill of deciphering the language and meaning in Dickens’ work. We also watched a film adaptation of David Copperfield.
Next term we will complete our reading of Hard Times and look at the text in greater detail. We will also either go to a local production of Hard Times or watch the television adaptation.
Students have been adopting a great work ethic. We have re-visited some topics, such as angles, fractions and arithmetic skills so that we can progress onto more challenging questions within those topics. Students understand that they need certain skills to progress further. We have seen everyday applications of converting units of measure, reading graphs, calculating areas and percentages.
Next term we will be looking at statistics and transformations.
Science – Theoretical
We spent the first half of the term marvelling at the structure of atoms and the fact that they are mostly composed of empty space! We then compared the relative sizes of objects from atoms to galaxies, which show that the physical world exists on some many different levels. This was followed by considering the ingredients of the Universe – the elements! We considered some of the main elements and how they form compounds as basic as water and as complex as human beings. We also looked at the Electro-Magnetic Spectrum and how we use its different constituents from light to radio waves.
In the 2nd half of the term we have been looking at the evolution of life on Earth from the Earth’s creation from pieces of dust 4.6 billion years ago up until the appearance of dinosaurs. We also looked at how the continents have moved so much over time and will continue to do so. Throughout the term we have had some very deep philosophical discussions about the remarkable nature of life and existence.
Next half term we will be continuing with our timeline of the evolution of life on Planet Earth, building evolutionary ancestral trees and looking into greater detail at some of the many wonderful and weird life forms that have walked our Earth.
Science – Practical
We have started this year with Chemistry, Structure and Bonding. We revised the structure of the atom, and looked at how atoms are joined together in salts by ionic bonding, and in molecules by covalent bonding. This included building models of hydrocarbon compounds. We compared the carbon structures of graphite and diamond. This lead us to the topic of Crude Oil and Fuels. We balanced combustion/burning equations. We looked at how fossil fuels are extracted, including fracking. The students built electrical circuits and measured current and voltage. We found out how mains electricity is generated, and converted for transport around the country, and for domestic use. Homework has extended their research skills, and ability to explain ideas using scientific terms.
Next term we will study the pollution caused by fossil fuels. The students will prepare and deliver presentations on renewable and alternative fuels. We will explore Radiation and Radioactivity, followed by Health and the Immune System.
This term we have been studying the Industrial Revolution. At first we considered the immense differences between the pre-Industrial age and our lives today. We then looked at the period by asking the question – ‘Why was life expectancy so low during the Industrial Revolution?’ This led us onto looking in detail at the horrific working and living conditions the majority of people experienced from 1750 – 1950. Our especial focus was on the shocking reality of child labour during first 100 years of the Industrial Revolution. We also connected these terrible stories of deprivation and cruelty with the spectre of child labour today in the Third World.
Next term we will be looking at the more positive side of the Industrial Revolution, from the Reformist movements who helped improve conditions to the great everyday and scientific benefits that this extraordinary period brought. However we will also be considering the environmental impact and legacy that we all face today.
This term we have been studying Plate Tectonics. We have looked at some famous case studies such as Montserrat, Mount Saint Helens and the Japanese Tsunami. I am looking forward to seeing students models of a volcano or their earthquake proof building designs after the holidays!
Next term we are going to study Population & Migration.
We started this term by looking at the figure. Producing a range of observational drawings and wire /clay sculptures. The second half of the term focused on self portraits; experimenting with photography, 2D materials and mixed media.
Next term we will be undertaking a design project.
Lower Secondary have worked extremely well so far in their weekly music classes.
For term 1 (September – October) we considered music for cartoons/animation and how perfectly it fits the action. Researching and presenting our singings to the class; working up to writing our own themes for cartoon characters and finally a whole music sound track for a short animation called Kiwi. The class worked in 2 groups for this and each came up with a great score.
For term 2, (November – December ) culminating in the Christmas Celebration performance, we discussed arrangements and also which were our favourite Christmas songs. We voted for Last Christmas, and to lead everyone in Imagine at the end. The class also decided to work in one big group. I think it all came together very well – I look forward to this term’s exploration of Dance Music…
Although we have had only 4 lessons, so far we have done muchas (many) things. We know how to introduce ourselves, how to say our name, age, nationality, to state how they are. But also they know how to ask these things to the person we are talking to. We know how to count from 1 to 100. We have also done some cultural work, regarding general facts in Spain, and also how we celebrate the Christmas season.
During the following lessons we will try to start using the verbs in the present tense, as to express routines, and talk about the things we like and we don’t like. We will work hobbies and food vocabulary and try to get to do our shopping in Spanish. Always with a communicative approach, as the students are already talking in Spanish in the classroom.