In September 1980, Richard Mannix arrived at Shiplake College as a young Biology teacher. We are now approaching the end of Richard’s 100th term at the College, and decided to mark this impressive landmark with a cake!
Renowned for his patience and willingness to help pupils talk through their hopes and plans for he future, Richard was soon promoted to Orchard House as the Housemaster for the day pupils. Throughout his time at Shiplake, Richard has been heavily involved with hockey. With his belief in building team spirit and involving every member of a squad, he has produced generation after generation of highly successful U15A hockey teams. During the summer terms he has run a Junior Tennis squad developing players to progress to the 1st and 2nd teams.
Richard has always been renowned for his innovation, too. He devised the plans that created a recording studio in the College’s historic water-tower and initiated the College’s annual gig giving musicians a chance to perform contemporary music in front of an enthusiastic audience.
Richard finished his stint as Orchard Housemaster and became Director of Studies overseeing the College’s academic programme. Training successfully as a school inspector Richard took a special interest in helping teachers to improve the quality of learning at the College. His final role has been as Senior Master, assisting colleagues to prepare for external inspections.
As a teacher who was always keen to develop the Shiplake community as a caring and supportive environment, it has been most appropriate that Richard’s own family should have also become heavily involved with Shiplake. His son and two daughters progressed through the College, onto university and then to their careers. Recently Fran, Richard’s wife, has joined the College as a Receptionist.
‘Richard has spent nearly all his teaching career at Shiplake. His loyalty and devotion have helped to build Shiplake into the successful school that it is today. Although we are celebrating 100 terms today, later in the year we will be wishing Richard a happy retirement when he finally marks his last pile of biology books’, said Gregg Davies, Headmaster.
Acting in a roleplay task as management consultants employed by Tesco, Year 12 Business students were given the brief of making recommendations to the retailer on its future objectives and strategy. The consultants, working in groups of 3 or 4, ran a meeting with a Chairperson managing the agenda and ensuring that the group evaluated each issue from political, legal, economic, social and sometimes technological viewpoints.
Although most groups anticipated Tesco’s retained profit rising as Britain posted more healthy Gross Domestic Product figures, some consultants recommended caution on over-investment in online shopping. Looking from a social stance it is evident that there are a significant proportion of consumers, particularly in the growing elderly demographic segment, who still prefer hands-on shopping. Although smart-phone and tablet ownership is increasing, there is a prospect that rising interest rates may just dampen retail sales.
Some groups were keen to recommend expansion of Tesco’s Metro small-shop development as it dovetailed neatly with the social trends of 24/7 convenience shopping. Other consultants argued that local community power had shown that there were many people opposed to Tesco’s continuing market dominance. Citing evidence from the Tescopoly website, they demonstrated that local power had successfully opposed planning permission for many Tesco developments in recent years.
‘As well as some very weighty business content, the exercise developed a number of the soft skills that businesses value so greatly,’ said teacher Michael Edwards. ‘Many businesses now include presentations and group discussions in assessment days as part of their recruitment procedure. Developing non-verbal communication skills and the ability to listen carefully are just as important as working on verbal skills.’
On the 28th of November the Year 10 GCSE Performing Arts theatre company, called ‘Just Know Co’ organised a GCSE Performance Evening to showcase their work and the work of the Year 11 GCSE Drama students. Boasting an audience of 40 including parents, teachers and pupils the boys brought the house down with two comedy pieces based on the theme ‘Home’.
The Year 10 group devised their own play based around the structure of a boarders school day with Finn Arbuckle taking on the difficult task of multi-rolling as various teachers. This was followed up by the Year 11 scripted piece entitled ‘A School Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, a hilarious comedy about a bunch of primary school children taking a trip to Alton Towers and on the way a character called Tricia (played by James Martin) convinces them that they are actually on a school journey to the centre of the earth. All in all a fabulous evening and credit must be given to the ‘Just Know Co’ for all their hard work in organising the evening.
In media studies this week, it was the turn of the Year 12 pupils to benefit from the advice of industry experts. Drew Cullingham and Ian Manson from Monk3ys Ink Films came in to deliver seminars on micro-budget film making to students undertaking the film industry module.
Both Drew and Ian have great experience in the world of television and film. They have helped to produce a range of material including feature-length films, documentaries and cookery programmes. In recent years, they have moved away from these conventional sectors and explored other less traditional pursuits. Their greatest success has been achieved via the production of ‘micro-budget’ films.
In truth, this was initially brought about due to the recession. With declining budgets and opportunities, filmmakers are tasked with finding alternative solutions to tell their stories. Micro-budget films are hugely reliant on volunteers and other acts of generosity. Incredibly, the hugely successful ‘Monk3ys’ film was produced for just £500 thanks to a free location, borrowed equipment and a voluntary cast. The only costs involved were painting a room and feeding everyone! Even after producing a film for nothing, the hard work is not over. Producers must find a way to market their movie, raise its profile and distribute it to viewers. Fortunately for Ian and Drew, Monk3ys was so revolutionary it won numerous awards from film festivals, and is now reaching a global audience via streaming platforms.
Head of Media Mr Millburn explained that students will be starting their coursework in January: ‘The pupils are tasked with filming an introduction to a feature-length film. They will also be working with next to no budget. Drew and Ian provided some extremely helpful hints and tips of ways to work around this problem. Every decision made is important and has an impact on the overall quality of the piece.’
The pupils also had the opportunity to pick the experts’ brains ahead of their upcoming task. Ian told students to ensure they ‘established a clear vision’ and ‘stuck to it throughout the writing and filming process’. Drew highlighted the importance of ‘writing with budget in mind’ and encouraged pupils to ‘make the most of the stunning settings around the College’.
The pupils felt the seminar was very helpful, and has given them the confidence to be ambitious with their own projects.
On Friday 6th December three volunteers from the Reading Samaritans group attended our full college chapel service. After the previous evening’s sad news, the service began with a period of silence in memory of Nelson Mandela. Pupils and staff needed no reminding of the incredible impact Nelson had across his lifetime. Undoubtedly one of the most inspirational people to have ever graced our world, his legacy will live on for generations.
Following this, one of the volunteers explained the history of the Samaritans charity, and how in 1953 the Daily Mirror Newspaper coined the term ‘Telephone Good Samaritans’, which has stuck ever since. A role-play demonstration then outlined the vital supporting role Samaritans have in peoples’ lives. Calls to the charity can be about anything, dismissing the common misconception that the service is purely used in extremely serious cases.
As mentioned in the previous news article, many of our pupils helped to arrange a Christmas cookie and biscuit sale. A cheque for the £181.55 raised was presented to the Samaritans during the chapel service. The charity supports disadvantaged children around the world, meaning the money we have raised will hopefully help to bring some happiness to their lives this Christmas.
Throughout the year, many of our students give up their time to help the Shiplake College fundraising committee. This helps to raise valuable money to assist charities in the local area, as well as supporting national and international aid initiatives. With the season of goodwill well underway, the committee recruited Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudolph (AKA Tom Arnold, Sissi Pongratz and Gus McCullogh) to assist with this particular fundraising effort for the Samaritans Children Charity.
All students and staff were given the opportunity to purchase goody bags of Christmas cookies and biscuits, in return for a charitable donation. Most deliveries were made in the Great Hall, although the sleigh was temporarily parked up outside reception as the trio arrived to deliver the Headmaster’s order. The treats were extremely popular; with one bag not enough for many!
Special mention should go to Katy Ward and Mariana Malagueira, who assisted Sissi in the making of the cookies. Libby Harman, Alice White, Harry Vardigans and Harry Hogan also kindly lent a helping hand with the biscuit distribution. The committee raised an impressive £181.55.
Touch Rugby has been introduced as a brand new sport for our girls this term. After working hard in training to learn and refine the required skills, the time has come to put them into practice. Last week, the girls took part in their first competitive fixture. England U18 player and Shiplake Captain Sophie Arnold has kindly provided a match report for the contest:
‘Last Wednesday saw the first ever Shiplake Girls Touch rugby match against Waingels School. It is safe to say that both were novice teams, although Waingels did have the advantage of having played some Rugby Union. Nevertheless Shiplake got off to a good start by scoring the first try. Play was split into 10 minute quarters with rolling subs, allowing everyone the opportunity to be heavily involved in the game.
The end score was 5-2 (in tries) to Shiplake. This was in no small part thanks to excellent defence from Lucy and Kate, who kept pushing the opposition's attacking line backwards, supported by the rest of the team. In attack we swiftly moved the ball up the pitch making the most of gaps in the opposition’s defence, which resulted in 5 tries scored by Meg, Emily, Chloe and myself (Sophie). There is much to learn and to build on but we look forward to developing Touch as a core sport in the Girls' games curriculum. Thank you to our coaches Sammie, Rowan and Paul and to Mrs Armstrong for organising the game. Well done to all the girls for making our first match a successful one.’
Traditionally a summer sport, the team are now looking forward to making further progress in training ahead of more frequent games towards the end of academic year.
Members of the Sixth Form Society have introduced a new series of talks exploring various subjects offered by the College at A-Level. These provide a valuable opportunity for pupils to broaden their understanding of a topic, and also allow pupils in Year 11 to make more informed decisions about their options for the future.
First in the series was Psychology. Head of department Mr Ebbage delivered an enthralling lecture titled ‘What has Psychology ever done for me?’, highlighting how the subject is relevant to absolutely everyone. As a communicative species, humans naturally think and speak about what other humans say and do. This means that everyone is an amateur psychologist!
Society member Max Hearnden introduced the talk and welcomed current Psychology students as well as Year 11 pupils from Shiplake and other schools considering it as an A-level subject. The experiments started as soon as the guests took their seats. Those on the left (window side) of the room took a cookie from a container with barely any remaining, whereas those on the right (fireplace side) received a cookie from a full box. Both groups were asked to rate the cookies on taste. Those who took cookies from the emptier container appreciated the taste more, as the item appeared more valuable.
In addition to this ambitious live experiment; Mr Ebbage presented key previous research, as well as interesting contemporary studies, outlining how Psychology is applicable to the everyday lives of young people. He particularly focussed on how Psychology affects academic pursuits, sport and relationships. The importance of avoiding distractions and using rewards during revision was verified with scientific evidence. Classical conditioning was a particularly popular topic with the audience. It was demonstrated how with sufficient practice, the smell of lemons can be used to elicit a positive mindset. As a result, it is argued that this technique could help to improve exam performance. The kitchen staff have subsequently been warned to expect a huge demand for the fruit in the summer!
The success of the Team GB Cycling team was then used to emphasise the crucial role of psychology in sport. The ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ theory explains how minor improvements can accumulate over time to make a crucial difference in competition. The cyclists attended hand-washing seminars in order to minimise the chances of falling ill and missing training. In elite sport, the margins between success and failure are incredibly small. An extra day of training saved by hygiene safety could be all that separates the frontrunners at the finish line.
All those who attended gained a fascinating insight into how Psychology affects the ‘real world’. It is hoped this will further energise their enthusiasm for the subject. Many other teachers are looking forward to the opportunity to showcase their own subjects in the New Year. Keep an eye out for details!
The Shiplake Year 8 Rugby team travelled to Abingdon Prep School last week to take part in their annual Rugby 7s competition. The boys went into the tournament on the back of just one training session, but were still determined to give the tournament their very best shot.
The first match was against Christ Church Cathedral School. Shiplake won convincingly 29-5, with tries from Jerome Rocks, Matt Dalrymple and Seb Hjortland-Marks. Next up was St Thomas’ Clapham who provided a sterner test, but Shiplake once again showed the potential they have within the Lower School by scoring 24 unanswered points by half time. St Thomas’ then fought back valiantly, but failed to complete their comeback with the final score 34-19.
The final match of the group was against the tournament favourites, Abingdon School. The opponents played some simple but effective rugby, out-scoring Shiplake 22-0. Despite the loss, Shiplake came second in their group and headed into the knockout stages fully confident that they could win tournament. The semi-final was a thrilling encounter against the hosts, Abingdon Prep School. With the scores level at 19-19 at full time, it went to ‘golden try’. With nothing to choose between the two sides, the excitement on the sidelines had reached fever-pitch. Even the bus driver was getting involved! Ultimately, the size and power of Jerome was too much for Abingdon Prep and Shiplake were through to the final.
Shiplake went into the final against Abingdon School, who they had already lost to that day, with huge belief. Abingdon drew first blood, but a brace of tries from Matty Fitzgerald pushed Shiplake ahead at half time. Abingdon then scored three decisive tries in quick succession, and ran out deserved winners of the tournament.
Our young side learnt a lot of valuable lessons about 7s rugby and look forward to the next competition after Christmas. Mr Beckett was pleased with the team performance, and the effort shown by the boys on a cold day in November!
Back Row – Adam Porter, Josh O’Hare, Harrison Richards, Matty Fitzgerald, Robbie Cartwright, Jerome Rocks, Will Mullin
Front Row – Luke Mullin, Tomas Gorringe, Morgan Taylor, Seb Hjortland-Marks, Matt Dalrymple
W 29-5 v Christ Church Cathedral School
W 34-19 v St Thomas' Clapham
L 0-23 v Abingdon School
W 24-19 v Abingdon Prep
L 10-34 v Abingdon School
The festive celebrations at Shiplake College were kicked off in style last week with an enthralling Winter Music Concert. Numerous parents, guests and staff arrived anticipating a great night of entertainment. Over 500 people packed out the sports hall, with not a spare seat in sight. This created an electric atmosphere for hundreds of pupils to perform and showcase some exceptional talent. It was impressive to see such a large proportion of our students get involved; across all year groups.
The show was opened by the Motown Band, featuring soloist William Simpson. They performed the Michael Bublé version of Feeling Good. Next, traditionally comprised of those who think they cannot sing, our Senior Rugby boys featured heavily in the Headmaster’s Choir. The boys’ initial caution was a distant memory as they sang Come from Heaven Above with an abundance of enthusiasm, and dare I say enjoyment?!
A huge variety of vocal acts covered everything from Christmas classics to modern chart hits. The ‘Lower School’ – featuring every single boy from Years 7 and 8 – and ‘Rock’ choirs particularly impressed with their seamless medley transitions. The Girls’ Choir nailed some complex harmonies, whilst the Barbershop Boys mastered the difficult task of performing ‘A cappella’.
A diverse range of instruments, from bassoons and double basses to trombones and violins, were played by the Senior Orchestra. They captivated the room with a magnificent rendition of The Planets and energetic interpretation of Sleigh Ride. For the penultimate act, we welcomed members of the Shiplake Community Choir who performed a wonderful ballad. The Choir was led by Louise Rapple, recent winner of the ‘Creative Woman of the Year’ Sue Ryder achievement award.
The event was fittingly rounded off by the Lower School Orchestra who had knees jiggling and feet tapping throughout the audience with their version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Some of the younger pupils had only been playing their instruments for 6 weeks; knowing as little as 3 notes! Nobody would have noticed, however, as this up-tempo festive anthem ignited Christmas spirit at the College. Performers and guests then made their way to the Great Hall where earlier in the day, the Parents’ Association had kindly assembled and decorated this year’s Christmas tree.
The new decorations provided an appropritate festive backdrop for all to enjoy some delicious mince pies. Mr Jones, Head of Music, was clearly delighted with the evening: "The Winter Concert was a huge success and the Music Department is incredibly proud of all performers. I was delighted by the uniformly high standard of the performances and the fact that so many members of the College community were performing. Well done to all."
Great credit should go to Mr Jones and his department for organising such a magnificent show. Next year certainly has a lot to live up to!