Schools column: Brooksbank School

Brooksbank School's visit to Barcelona FC
Brooksbank School's visit to Barcelona FC

Students from The Brooksbank School had a ball when they visited Barcelona and achieved a fantastic first and second place in a football tournament they’ll never forget.

A group of 30 boys headed for Barcelona for the five-day football vacation.

“The trip was the first of its kind and one which we will remember for many years to come,” said trip organiser and PE teacher Paul Quinn.

Boarding a 7am flight from Liverpool airport, the students were soon transfixed by the stunning approach towards Barcelona as the plane banked and then glided down on to the tarmac.

After checking in to Hotel Samba, they quickly unpacked and headed for the beach.

Their first sight was the Torre Agbar – a 38-storey skyscraper along the lines of London’s gherkin.

“The tower lights up in millions of red and blue lights every time Barcelona score,” said an impressed Mr Quinn.

Students found Barcelona’s modernista architecture hugely impressive and the name of everyone’s lips was that of architect, Antoni Gaudí.

Next on the agenda was another must see destination - especially for soccer fans – the Nou Camp stadium, home of FC Barcelona.

With its seating capacity of 99,354, it is the largest stadium in Europe.

The boys took a multi-media journey through the club’s history, packed with video footage and pictures from their incredible history, Lionel Messi’s golden boots, a visit to the player’s room and a walk down the tunnel and to the side of the pitch.

After an adrenaline-pumping day out at Water World, days four and five were dedicated to training, when they were put through their paces by coaches from the West Ham Academy.

Tuesday morning was spent developing attacking and finishing skills ahead of a tournament after lunch.

“In the afternoon, both teams knew they were in with a chance of winning the overall competition,” beamed Mr Quinn.

“We had faced each other the day before with the B team running out 1-0 winners. Then the two sides met again which resulted in a 1-1 draw. This meant that our B team would get a crack at the final. They met Hereford School and beat them with ease. It was thrilling to think that we had come first and second in the tournament.

“The trip had been a huge success and has left us with some wonderful memories. We proudly carried the trophy through the airport and lots of people asked us where we had been and what we had won.”

Ellie’s moving poem wins top accolade

Congratulations to Ellie Telford in form 9T on becoming Brooksbank’s Poet Laureate for 2015-16.

Ellie’s poem was chosen as the best out of the whole year group.

Called “365 Days” Ellie’s class mates and English teacher were moved to tears when they heard her read it aloud.

“We were asked to write about something personal,” says Ellie “I knew the poetry competition was coming up and it was a sad time for me, so this is what I came up with. I never expected to win because the whole group was competing for the prize.”

Ellie’s teacher, Anthony Lomas, had played the Simon and Garfunkel classic, “I am a Rock”, during an English lesson, not realising that Ellie just happened to be a huge fan.

“My dad first introduced me to their music and I have enjoyed them ever since.”

French visitors enjoy the best of British

French exchangers at Brooksbank were thrilled to welcome their visitors from Perpignan recently.

The party from Collège Maintenon touched down at Liverpool Airport to enjoy the best of British and the best of Brooksbank.

With this exchange now in its third year, the itinerary had been primped to show off some of the lessons that students enjoy most.

Taking advantage of some lovely summer sunshine, Tuesday afternoon was spent in and around the arthaus with Ms Rachel Lumb creating some unusual drawings. Exchangers stepped out into the warm sunshine, headed to the woodland that skirts the sports field and became absorbed with the poetry of tree drawing.

“We don’t do anything like this at schools in France,” said a surprised Madame Miffre, who teaches English at Collège Maintenon, Perpignan.

The French visitors also enjoyed their very first game of rounders, organised by Mrs Helen Whiteley, on the playing fields.

“We have passed on instructions on how to play, the French school has invested in equipment and now they are playing the game in Perpignan,” said Mrs Whiteley.

On Wednesday morning students headed off to the National Coal Mining Museum, had fun with team-building activities at Brooksbank in the afternoon and went bowling at the Electric Bowl, Halifax, in the evening.

On Thursday, they had a fantastic day out at Flamingo Land, while Friday was spent at Brooksbank with two fun-filled talent competitions designed to bring out their musical and baking skills: the Elland-vision Song Contest in the morning and the Great Brooksbank Bake-off in the afternoon.

Monday reached a climax with a spot of retail therapy at the Trafford Centre and a trip to Old Trafford in the afternoon to discover the stadium and find out all about Manchester United.

On Monday evening, the exchangers gathered in the arthaus for some farewell celebrations before departing the following morning.

It had been a fantastic learning experience, with lessons never seen in France, some great days out and plenty of time to enjoy the best of British.

Sketchbook Circle surges with creativity

Brooksbank’s Sketchbook Circle has seen a surge of creative activity since its formation last September.

Founded by deputy head of art, Yvette Hughes, the circle has been hugely successful in inspiring members of staff at the school to work together creatively. “I was already working collaborating with another artist and had seen my motivation soar as a result,” said Yvette.

“It occurred to me that colleagues at Brooksbank might like to give it a go too. I floated the idea thinking five or six might join - I never expected forty-two prospective ‘sketch bookers’ to come forward.”

The project has enabled the development of a creative community, who have been empowered by the venture. Working in groups of six and furnished with an A5 sketchbook and their own choice of media, members could fill as many pages as they wanted and pass on the spiral-bound pages at the end of every month.

“The project created such a buzz,” said Yvette. “Suddenly, we were all chatting happily on corridors about our creative ideas rather than our usual day-to-day routines of marking books, providing data and wondering when Ofsted were going to appear!

“We discovered we had a Chemistry teacher who is a silversmith and makes her own jewellery; a deputy head who is a wiz with her sewing machine; an IT technician who is a skilled stained glass maker; a PE teacher who loves doodling and a history teacher who makes music, to name just a few.

“The diversity is unbelievable. Our Chemistry jeweller crafted a silver clay bird and passed on to an art teacher, who created a piece of weaving and passed on to our history musician, who wrote a piece of music and passed on to our art technician photographer who set about shooting some trade-mark imagery.”

Casual drop-ins, meet-ups with sketchbook students in Year 9 and a sketchbook day, have all served to inspire members and keep the creative fire burning throughout the year.

“It’s been a fantastic experience,” said Miss Lee Firth, marketing and events co-ordinator at the school.

“I love to experiment with print, pattern and ageing techniques - the circle helped me to progress my ideas much more quickly than I would have done when working solo. Working together at a day-long workshop, which saw eight of us make, share and chat about our work, was another memorable highlight,” she added.

An exhibition of circle work was presented on the fringe of Prime ‘016 – an exhibition of sixth form art and photography work.

“It has been a fascinating learning curve,” said Yvette, who leaves Brooksbank to become head of art at Ryburn Valley in September.

“I had planned for the circle to run like clockwork but - due to our busy work/life schedule - passing on proved a little more haphazard. My main ambition - to enrich staff creativity at Brooksbank - has been achieved, with fantastic results.”

Students speak up about LBGTQA

Thanks to the passion and foresight of four students in their sixth form, every student at Brooksbank has heard a heart-felt plea for more education, in our schools, about LGBTQA.

Connor Fahey, Maria Gomez, Phoebe McMahon and Adam Crowther spoke convincingly to students in every year group.

LGBTQA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Asexual, although there are numerous variations of the acronym, which began simply as LGBT in the 1990s.

Connor, Maria, Phoebe and Adam have become advocates for improving the ways in which children and young people learn about people who are LGBTQA. They decided to use the Rotary Youth Speaks competition as a platform to bring about changes to the way LGBTQA is taught to in schools.

What began as a discussion with the head teacher, Mr Kevin McCallion, led to writing a formal letter addressed to him. That quickly escalated to presentations to all year groups and multiple presentations in the Rotary’s public speaking competition.

“Many young people and children are unaware of the term because they do not have access to information. We believe that this information should be readily available so that we can all be open minded about the subject,” said Adam. “I believe that it is time to forge a new path in the rights of LGBT people and to help make their lives a little easier. Many young people are fixed with outdated views of gender and sexuality. They believe that the only options available to them are ‘boy,’ and ‘girl,’ and ‘gay,’ and ‘straight.’ It is our belief that students should be educated about the fact that gender and sexuality are spectrums, and there are many labels available to them. At present sexual and health education is taught, but only in terms of heterosexual relationships, and as a result, LGBT people often feel neglected and marginalized.”

The sixth formers went on to win the Youth Speaks Yorkshire final before winning the national final in Preston.

“We knew we were up against some very accomplished performers from others schools and did not expect to win,” said Adam, who spoke for six minutes on the subject. “The judges, and the audience, really seemed to engage with what we were saying - which was great.”

“We just want people to be aware that there are many orientations and everyone should be accepted for who they are,” said Connor.

Inspiring jewellery designers add a bit of bling

The opportunity to work with a silversmith has proved hugely popular with young technology designers.

Led by jewellery maker and silversmith, Vince Hudson, the workshop introduced students to the art and craft of jewellery making.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Barney, one of our aspiring young designers, at the end of the successful day.

“I am really proud of the things I made,” said Josh.

Students were taught a range of jewellery making techniques and went on to put their new skills to the test, by making a variety of silver and copper rings and bracelets.

“I have designed and made a bracelet for my sister, and a ring for my mum,” said Ollie.

“It was such an amazing experience and I loved it loads. It has really inspired me to take Resistant Materials as one of my GCSE subjects.”

“Lots of fabulous products were produced and it was a joy to see them slipping on their shiny bracelets and rings,” said Mrs Karen Robertshaw, a technology teacher at the school.