Thursday, 24th April 2014

To aid their exam preparation, our GCSE Science Triple Award students recently attended ‘Science in Action’ study days in London.

For the Year 10 Triple Award group, it was a trip to ‘GCSE Science Live’ at the Dominion Theatre. Five of Britain’s top scientists working at the cutting edge of their fields, including Richard Dawkins and Blue Peter star Maggie Aderin-Pocock, gave a series of exciting and thought-provoking lectures. The scientists were chosen carefully for their ability to communicate with young students in a direct and engaging way.

An experienced science examiner was also on hand to offer valuable examination hints and tips. With front row seats, the Shiplake pupils had a great view on the scientific experiments carried out on stage. They returned to College with an even greater enthusiasm for science, still debating precise elements of evolution.

Our Year 11 Science Triple Award students visited the University of London for a ‘Science in Action’ study day of their own. The purpose of the day was to examine the “Eureka!” moments in science. Pupils learnt about the hunt for alien life on other planets, the chemistry of poisons, evolution, and the forensics of crime scene investigation.

Leading University lecturers explained the luck, genius and accident that have led to the greatest of scientific discoveries. Pupils particularly enjoyed discussing whether famous scenes from Hollywood films such as SPEED, Die Hard and Chain Reaction are scientifically possible.

The study days are not only useful for the impending GCSE exams, but also give an insight into some of the careers which are available to students should they pursue science in higher education. 

Wednesday, 23rd April 2014

The Shiplake Music department ensured the Spring Term ended on a high by organising a wonderful Spring Concert. Once again, the concert was hugely inclusive, allowing a vast number of pupils to demonstrate their musical talents. Ensembles ranged from the entire Lower School Orchestra and popular Rock Choir to the expertise of the senior music students in the Clarinet Quartet and Barbershop Boys.

The Sports Hall was once again transformed using state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology into a venue worthy of such a high-quality concert. The evening was kicked off in thunderous fashion with Greased Lightning performed by ‘The Shiplake T-Birds’ who gelled perfectly as a group to achieve slick execution. Performances throughout the show covered a diverse range of music genres and styles, including the string ensemble’s version of Brazilian classic Tico-Tico no Fubá and the Chamber Choir’s version of Viva la Vida by Coldplay.

The rock choir impressed the audience with an entertaining medley of recent hits It’s Time, Mirrors and Royals originally released by Imagine Dragons, Justin Timberlake and Lorde respectively. The Girls’ Choir took on Just Give Me a Reason by Pink while the visiting Shiplake Community Choir expressed The Rhythm of Life.

All A Level and BTEC Music students were prominent throughout the concert, taking to the stage on a number of occasions to showcase their impressive range of abilities. Notable solos came from Niranjan Rajagopal who sang Pharrel Williams’ Happy – the biggest hit of 2014 so far – with the Motown Band and Reiss Simpson who performed Radioactive accompanied by Yeem Chanthanawan.

The newly-appointed Music Captains helped in the smooth-running of the event by taking charge of the logistics. Most of the items were arranged by music staff, including the final performance of the evening by the Lower School Orchestra. Mr Ham imaginatively combined sporting tunes into a Football Fiesta medley.

The Headmaster was delighted with the evening, proclaiming it was “the concert he has been waiting 10 years for!” Mr Davies added: “All performers looked like they had FUN, which makes is hugely enjoyable for the audience. Everyone involved deserves great credit.”

To see more photos from the Spring Concert, please visit our Flickr gallery

Tuesday, 22nd April 2014

Shiplake rugby star Fili Savou has been included in the England U17 squad ahead of the upcoming international match against France. 

Year 11 pupil and Saracens academy player Fili joined around 40 other talented players from across the country at the final selection weekend in Leeds earlier this month. Fili performed sufficiently well to impress the team of selectors including England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster, and earn a place in the squad. 

Savou said: "It was an incredible experience competing at that level and I was thrilled to be told I had made the U17 England squad. To have been selected for the team's first international is a great honour." Head of Rugby Mr Beckett added: 'To achieve England selection for the first time is a huge achievement for Fili, and is reward for the hard work and dedication he has shown to rugby since joining Shiplake College."

The match against France takes place on Saturday 26 April at Broadstreet Rugby Club in Coventry. Kick off is at 1pm. 

Thursday, 17th April 2014

The World War I centenary year has captured public interest and received widespread coverage on TV, radio and in the press. Consequently, the first few months of 2014 have proved to be particularly busy for historian, and former Shiplake teacher Jon Cooksey. Jon left Shiplake at the end of the 2013 Autumn Term, in order to dedicate himself to increasing work commitments associated with the impending centenary year. Judging by his endeavours since then, this look to be a wise decision!

In March, Jon featured in television documentary 'Hidden Histories – WW1's Forgotten Photographs', screened on BBC4. In the programme, Jon told the story of Harry Colver, a soldier who took his camera into the trenches in 1915, and captured some marvellous images. The programme proved to be popular as it was ‘pick of the day’ in the Radio Times and the story was featured in several Sunday papers.

On another recent trip, Jon took black professional footballer and ex PFA Chairman Clarke Carlisle to France as part of BBC Radio 4's World War One at Home programme. With an IQ of over 150, Clarke is regarded as Britain’s most intelligent footballer and has made regular television appearances on programmes such as Question Time and Countdown. He is also well known for campaigning against racism and inequality in football, and is an ambassador for the ‘Kick It Out’ scheme.

Clarke and Jon were in France to follow and investigate the story of Walter Tull. Walter was one of the first black professional footballers and the first black officer in the British Army. Clarke and Jon are pictured examining an unexploded shell near the spot where Walter was killed in action on 25 March 1918. His body was never found.

A third interesting project for Jon was a separate visit to France with Rev Richard Coles. Some of you may remember listening (or dancing) to Don't Leave Me This Way by the Communards. Classically-trained Richard was one half of the Communards pop duo, and nowadays co-presents BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live.

The purpose of the trip was to explore the life of Lt Col Bernard Vann. An ordained priest, Vann was killed attacking the German Fonsomme Line near Ramicourt on 3 October 1918, just four days after the action for which he received the Victoria Cross. This is the highest military honour in Britain, awarded for ‘valour in the face of the enemy’. Bernard was also awarded the Military Cross and Medal Bar. Jon and Richard are pictured at Bernard’s grave at Bellicourt British Cemetery. 

Wednesday, 16th April 2014

After struggling to cope with the searing Antiguan heat and talent of their young, speedy opponents, Shiplake’s tennis players could have been forgiven for losing heart after defeats in their first two tour matches.

The Antiguan opponents from Halycon Tennis Club moved the Shiplake players around the court with dept drop shots and consistently accurate winners down the line. Each match is comprised of four singles matches and two doubles contests. In the first match, Shiplake failed to register a victory and succumbed to a 6-0 loss with Antigua’s number one ranked junior player particularly impressive.

Despite this knock in confidence, Shiplake were in truth unfortunate to lose the second fixture. Charlie Sichel and Matt Horsfall had worked hard on their serves in training and this helped them to win some valuable energy-saving ‘free points’. Sichel won his singles match to post the first victory of the tour, closely followed by George Nicheli who came through a close match to win 6-4. Unfortunately, Shiplake could not claim the wins required in the doubles matches and were faced with a second defeat.

Ahead of the third match, Head of Tennis Mr Mallins made a small wager with the opposition meaning that the losing team would have to sing their national anthem. This served as inspiration for the boys as they came out fighting after a refreshing boat trip on the previous day. Charlie teamed up with Harrison Balchin and claimed an important doubles win. Nicheli and Horsfall quickly followed suit and all of a sudden a first victory was in sight. A stunning display of matchplay from Horsfall got Shiplake over the line, and the team were absolutely delighted with the win. Gracious in the defeat, the opposition lined up to sing the Antiguan national anthem.

The fourth and final match was played in cooler conditions, which was more familiar to the British players. After impressive singles wins, it looked like Shiplake may tie the series. Unfortunately they were not able to get the doubles victory required and the fixture ended in a draw. Perhaps this was the fairest way to end Shiplake’s time with Halycon Tennis Club who have been wonderful and friendly hosts all week. To show their appreciation, the touring pupils donated bag, balls and caps to the club, and treated them to a rendition of the British national anthem.

Mr Mallins was pull of praise for the Shiplake team: "The tennis squad have been well-behaved, focused and a pleasure to spend time with on this tour, and I am very proud of them finishing the series with a win and a draw."