Tuesday, 23 May 2017

An afternoon with Wasps at the Ricoh Arena

Written by Lucy, student reporter

I’m here to tell you about our amazing adventure to the Ricoh Arena on Thursday 18th May 2017.

For your information, the Coventry Ricoh Arena was built in 2005 and is now owned by Wasps (an English professional Rugby Union team).

So let’s get started.

First off, after a quick lunch, we headed off to the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) at school, and prepared for the trip. We split into two groups, one which would leave immediately with Mrs Nguyen (our amazing teacher) and hang around at the Stadium. The other group, however, (me included) had to wait a full 30 minutes before Mrs Boyne drove back to pick us up again. 

Then we were off! 

The first lucky group had a bit of free time at the Ricoh, with a great brainstorming session from the Wasps staff member called Sam (who is a Community Development Officer), then we (the second group) hurried in and our tour began!

Outside, the weather was perfect for an afternoon out, breezy with a light wind and sunny! It rained cats and dogs the day before. I am sure you could easily imagine how happy we would feel to walk in the sun on the pitch later.

We were led down many corridors, hallways and stairs, until finally, we reached the Media room! We sat in the same seats that the press normally sit in! How amazing! Maybe we’ll actually sit there as the press one day.

Then Sam (an ex-Wasps professional player who also played for England) and his colleague Paul, talked to us about how Wasps moved to Coventry from London. We found it very interesting to be told that at the moment Wasps were top of the premiership, and that meeting with the press in the Media room could be both exciting for the winning team and daunting for the losing one!

Before departing for the Ricoh Arena tour, we already knew that a number of the Olympic 2012 games were hosted in the Ricoh stadium. However our eyes (and mouths) were wide open to hear some amazing facts, such as there were 777 events happening at the Ricoh Arena just last year! That was approximately 2 events a day! Wow!

Soon we were off again down some more corridors, and up more stairs. The Arena was HUGE! 

We arrived at the tincey wincey 'Away Changing Rooms'. They were painted in some very grey and creamy colours. We were told that the layout and the furniture inside were purposely designed to provide less comfort to the Away teams. It’s a part of the competitiveness in sport we suppose. 

On a completely different scale, the ‘Home Changing Rooms’ were 10x bigger, and made of lovely wooden furnishings with a lovely air-con system. The spacious room was painted with vibrant colours, dominated by black and yellow, the main colours of Wasps. There was even a built-in mini bar!

Paul (an ex-player) talked to us a bit more on the changing rooms. He stated how they were specially designed to help the players relax and focus on the game ahead, so they could concentrate and do their best on the pitch. Paul also told us how the ceilings of the ‘Home Changing Rooms’ had to be raised so the teams could walk upright, you surely know how massively impressive a rugby player’s physique is!

Whilst Paul and Sam were talking to us, we got an opportunity to meet and help out ‘the Kit Man’ who seemed to know everything about the Wasps rugby players, from which boots they liked, to where and how many sugars they would take in their tea!

Finally, the bit we’d all been waiting for, a tour of the stadium. We were told that Wasps were going to play against Leicester Tigers on Saturday, and we had a very strong feeling that Wasps would win.

We walked through the big and white tunnel onto the pitch. In the distance from where we stood, some workmen were checking the pitch. We were allowed to sit on the substitute’s bench and the manager’s box!

All too soon it was over, and we went back through the hallways to the entrance, where we all said goodbye to Sam and Paul.

On the mini-bus back to school, some of us talked about the time we heard from Paul that his first crush whilst in school was on a teacher of his! How interesting!

All in all it was a great experience!

Bye for now!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Former Arsenal FC Vice-Chairman speaks to pupils

Written by: Destiny, Lucy, Ciaran and Ben (student reporters)

On Thursday 27th April, David Dein visited Whitley Academy to speak to our pupils.

David is the former Vice-Chairman of Arsenal Football Club (1983-2007), and former Vice-Chairman of the Football Association.

At 12:30pm – Mr Dein arrived.

We were the lucky student reporters who got the opportunity to meet Mr Dein. It is not that difficult to envisage how excited we were waiting for Mr Dein’s visit, as many of us were football fans.

Together with Mrs Nguyen (our teacher), Duncan, Ciaran and Ben (the Year 8 reporters), went to the school Reception to welcome Mr Dein.

Our nerves soon vanished, the ice was broken, and after a few questions and jokes from Mr Dein, we were all in a flowing conversation. We had lunch together in the Learning Resource Centre (LRC). There was a nice little buffet awaiting us all.

Mr Dein explained how your physical and mental state worked together, and that your fitness makes you sharper mentally.

To our surprise, Mr Dein came up with some very funny jokes including, “What did the bee say to the flower? Hello, honey!” and “Knock knock. Who’s there? Merry. Merry who? Merry Christmas!”

Mr Dein then asked us about our aspirations, what we liked to watch on TV, and also what we did as hobbies. While we chatted, we ate some more, but on a banquet of food that couldn’t be forgotten. We felt really happy and so ready to listen to his talk in the Auditorium.

At 1:40pm, Mr Dein spoke.

Throughout nearly one hour of listening to Mr Dein’s talk, we all were hooked into his stories. He took us through the journey to regain the public interest in football, from the bad times of hooliganism in stadiums back in the 1980s. He talked about how television was the main income source for football, and how television networks stopped showing football for six months because they wanted nothing to do with the game! Imagine that!

With the progression of football over the years, he stated that football stadium occupancy has taken a giant leap since 1993. It used to be 69.6%, by 2015/16 it became 96.3%. Furthermore, using Arsenal as an example, he showed us that the bookings for seats in the stadium have gone up by 27,000 in just over twenty years! Wow!

Mr Dein even told us to “Be the best we could be!” It is actually our Whitley Academy motto!

There were plenty of other valuable life lessons too, that we'll take away with us.

  • Everybody does a job and they should have pride in the job they are doing.
  • There is a motto called 'The motto of the turtle'. It says that "you don't get anywhere unless you stick your neck out". 
  • To be successful you need three important qualities, they are: hard work, vision and courage. 
  • Always try to be original.

If you don’t have courage, pride, and vision, you can’t get far in any job, let alone a career in football.

Our very own reflection…

Ciaran of Year 8 said..

"My thought on the visit from David Dein is that anyone can get anywhere if they want to. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. The whole reason he was involved with Arsenal in the first place was because he took a risk and invested in their shares. He did this by sending Arsenal an empty cheque and let them decide how much money they wanted - he wasn’t even sure they would give him any of their shares at this point. Because of this they trusted him and got him on their team".

Ben of Year 8 said..

"I think that David Dein’s visit was very inspiring. He proved to us that anyone who tries hard enough can be successful. His motto was “You won’t get anywhere in life unless you stick your neck out.” That means that you should never be afraid to take a risk, anything is possible. David took a risk and he is a massive success. He is incredibly confident at public speaking so he uses his abilities to inspire children.

Personally, I believe that David is a great person and served Arsenal proud, I hope he will keep doing talks in schools and prisons so that more people gain the knowledge that he shared to us".

After an eventful day we had all enjoyed ourselves, especially being able to talk to Mr Dein! When it was all over (too quickly in our opinion) we took home valuable lessons we had learned and have yet to use!

Our huge thanks to Mr Dein, and the national charity Speakers for Schools for giving the opportunity to the Whitley Academy pupils.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Pupils enjoy meeting their pen pals, as Collége Jean Mermoz visits

On Thursday 6th April, pupils and staff from our French partner school, Collége Jean Mermoz, visited Whitley Academy. 

Collége Jean Mermoz is situated in the town of Faches-Thumesnil, just outside of Lille in Northern France, and has worked with pupils and staff at Whitley Academy since 2012. 

The visit was to continue the collaboration projects between the two schools, ranging from work on protecting local environments, introducing pupils to new language and culture, and commemorating the events of both World Wars.

The exchange complements the International Status of Whitley Academy, with additional link schools in Japan, France and South Africa.

The day of the visit

At the start of the day, everyone settled down in the Auditorium, and despite a few initial nerves, pupils soon began to settle down and get comfortable awaiting the arrival of their French pen pals. 

At 9am, fifty four students from Collége Jean Mermoz and their four teachers arrived; they were shown to the Auditorium where the day started off with an introduction speech from Mr Purslow.

Students were given some snapshots of life between the two cities, Coventry and Lille, then came the time for an exchange of presents from both schools. The teachers presented each other with art work that symbolised the two cities of Coventry and Lille. 

At the end of the morning, the audience was split into four groups, with pupils pairing off with their pen pals to start collaborative lessons. In these lessons, pupils were encouraged to sit with pen pals, communicating in both French and in English. After the lesson, it was time for a lunch break; everyone went to the canteen for food and then to get changed for some outdoors activities.

It was a lovely sunny day in Coventry - pupils were split into small groups and played frisbee. Everyone was smiling and pupils got to know each other better through teamwork.

After a quick break to get changed, it was time to head to the City Centre, where the Collége Jean Mermoz students were shown around Coventry. Highlights included the Cathedral, the Statue of Lady Godiva and the Transport Museum. Many pupils had the opportunity to wander around town with the French students, allowing everyone to make some fond memories.

At first it was difficult to communicate, but through perseverance students did their very best. When they couldn't understand each other, they resorted to using hand gestures and actions, making everyone laugh and become more comfortable. Many French students went shopping for souvenirs and clothes around the city, as well as getting some food. As the pupils spent more time together, closer bonds were made, and everyone had a great time together despite some initial language barriers.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience for both the Whitley Academy and Collége Jean Mermoz pupils. 

Many thanks to the visiting pupils, to the staff involved; and to the student reporters with Miss Nguyen. Au Revoir!

Watch our video about the visit - 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Stepping into the past at Kenilworth Castle

Written by Destiny and Benjamin - student reporters.

On Thursday 30th and Friday 31st March 2017, two groups of Year 7 pupils explored the history and the making of Kenilworth Castle. 

It was a fairly mild day, great for a trip, with a few showers, but nothing stopped us from treading deeper into history! We all set off, after a quick class of Maths revision, buzzing in excitement! We rushed out of class, and raced down the Whitley Academy hill at about 9:30am. The coaches were there waiting for all of us!

Soon later, at about 9:45am, we saw a long, jagged silhouette, almost like a castle, we had arrived! 

First, we looked around the castle ruins, travelled up a case of stairs, and gazed at the spectacular view. Only now we realised we were so high up.


Then, we walked around the castle garden and spotted some initials (R.L because the castle was owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) dotted around the ruins. The gardens were built especially for Queen Elizabeth and now we were in the royal gardens admiring the tall marble fountain and the birds that chirped away in the aviary.

After that, our teacher explained some important parts of the well established history of Kenilworth Castle. We were all in awe to know the Castle was first built in the 1120s! We were allowed to explore the ruins and even stood looking out of the arrow slits that once were used to defend the castle! In the kitchens we were able to stand in the old oven too! How fun! 

We then discussed things that had occurred during the time the castle was whole. We learned about Robert Dudley and his relationship with Queen Elizabeth I. They were childhood sweethearts. Robert Dudley was a suitor for Queen Elizabeth and he really wanted to marry her. He had even built her a guesthouse for when she came to visit. One visit lasted eighteen days, and we learned that Robert Dudley had made the castle extra luxurious just for her arrival. Wow! The garden was built and the castle was decorated fit for a royal arrival. We felt just like royalty on the trip too!

We ventured a bit further after that, going into Queen Elizabeth’s most private room, and finding out that two of the buildings had once been symmetrical. 


Then, we could all choose something from the gift shop! There was so much to choose from, from stress balls to swords, it was so hard to decide!

We had another break, but for half an hour this time, and walked around some more parts of the castle (it was so big), whilst some of the student reporter team took some snaps of the scenery and class.

The battle began!

We used the ruins of the old chapel to perform our battles. It was at this point we learned a lot about defending and attacking a castle. We split into two teams and had to form a strategy quickly, trying to find the best way to defeat our opponent. It was a lot of fun, and at the end there was an amazing gymnastic performance from Matae (7SGR). 

Lunch time!

All of us were hungry now, and we started snacking on our lunches, but, by the time it was lunch time, some had ate all of it! Luckily, Mrs Boyne was at the rescue, there were some spare school lunches! Yay! A feast fit for royalty, thank you Miss Boyne.


We had a run around once we had finished our royal banquet, not knowing we should have saved some of our energy for the treasure hunt race we had coming up.

In short, we had to find the places marked on the piece of paper, and describe what it looked like when we found it. The winning team got a prize. We had to be back by 2:00pm.

We didn’t get to complete the treasure hunt unfortunately due to restrictions in place at Kenilworth Castle. It was such a shame but the fun didn’t end. We were able to draw and sketch pictures of the castle and played games with the parachute too. The winner of the castle sketches won a king and queen pencil from Miss Boyne.

Unfortunately, none of us found out what the treasure hunt prize was in the end. But, anyway, we all had a fun-filled day, tracing the steps in history.

We were all sure to have a long snooze once we got home.

Hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoyed the whole day full of fun!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Pupils hold mock trial at Coventry Magistrates' Court

Written by Mansi, Year 9 pupil

On Saturday 18th March 2017, 12 perceptive pupils from Whitley Academy participated against six other schools in the Coventry Magistrates' Court 'Mock Trial 2017'.

This was a competition where pupils from different schools took up the roles of lawyers, witnesses, and magistrates, and then prosecuted or defended in a domestic criminal case.

I hoped this experience would teach me a lot of things about crime and how sentences are given, in a more interesting and fun way.

Outside, the weather wasn’t the best. Although it was warm, it was cloudy and drizzling. The warm air rushed around us when the cold water sprayed against our faces. It wasn’t ideal for taking photos outside. We felt very warm inside as the adrenaline started kicking in. We were so ready for the competition.

At around 9:00am, we familiarised ourselves with the court and practiced our roles. We checked the display boards for our court numbers - if your school name is at the top, you are prosecuting, and if your school name is at the bottom, you are defending.

Whitley Academy would be against Caroline Chisholm School in Northampton.

As soon as the session started, I was the first person to talk (as the prosecution lawyer). The nerves kicked in. Consequently I spoke a bit too fast. But after some time, I got back on track and continued to present to the court the credible evidence I had researched so far. 

I had to make sure the evidence was precise, even if it might suggest that the defendant is not guilty. Together with my prosecution team, we got to make sure the court reached the right verdict, not just a guilty verdict. 

Everyone in my Whitley Academy team performed their best and tried as much as they could. It was definitely not an easy job to talk confidently in front of so many people and the real-life magistrates.

After the round was over, the magistrate specially praised the Whitley Academy prosecution witness (Joe of Year 9) as he managed himself really well and responded smoothly to the defence lawyers with their very tricky questions.

It was time for some quick group photos.


Then Mrs Nguyen helped me to secure some minutes to talk to the Magistrate. He praised me for delivering such a difficult role impressively. He also advised me to control my nerves better for future public speaking opportunities. I agreed with him wholeheartedly. I felt the massive privilege to spend some precious minutes listening to such useful and effective feedback from him. It really made me feel ecstatic as no one else got any personal feedback from the Magistrate.

Then it was time for home.

We left the Magistrate Court feeling overjoyed with the experience we had for the day. Although we did not win the competition, we won by participating in it. For me participation is more important than winning. 

We all enjoyed the whole event and learned a great deal from it. We were so ready for next year’s opportunity.

Goodbye for now!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Pupils practise valuable skills for Duke of Edinburgh Award

Whitley Academy has recently launched the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Twenty Year 9 pupils have signed up to undertake this nationally recognised award and will be completing it over the course of this academic year. 

The Award is a personal challenge; it pushes young people to their personal limits and recognises their achievements. All participants must complete four sections; they must practise a skill, volunteer somewhere or for someone, partake in a physical activity and then complete a two day expedition in the countryside. 

In order to complete the expedition section, participants must attend a series of training sessions to learn camp craft, navigational skills and first aid. 

On Tuesday 14th March, Whitley pupils went on their first practise walk. Pupils walked around the Berkswell/Meriden area, in Warwickshire, and practised their map reading and navigational skills. 

The day was a huge success!