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#61 - 2018

For our penultimate entry it seems a rather fitting reflection of the advancement in technology to report that in 2018 the College introduced a set of 18 state-of-the-art VR Headsets.

Gone are the days of growing excited by the ‘wheeling in of the TV’ at the beginning of a fun lesson, Shiplake’s Virtual Reality Headsets allow pupils to be transported out of the classroom and into an extraordinary environment. From the trenches of WWI to the surface of the moon, pupils are able to experience both the unfeasible and the impossible.

When members of a class login, they are faced with a screen from which they can select their lesson. The teacher, who has ultimate control of what their tutees are accessing, will select a subject or lesson and the real fun begins!

For example, a history class may be studying the First World War and with the use of these VR Headsets, pupils will be able to better understand the terrible conditions experienced by soldiers. What’s more, the virtual recreation of a different time or place allows the impossible to happen, ringing in a new era of teaching and learning.

While sceptics may be quick to question the effectiveness in the classroom, History teacher Paul McCraw was our first to test them out: ‘It worked really well actually, I was expecting the boys to find it distracting and ‘just another gimmick’ but in fact they were really engaged and thoroughly enjoyed this new way of learning.’

Deputy Head, Academic, Paul Jones said ‘As with all technology, in the wrong hands it can be used ineffectively or irresponsibly, but in the right hands and with guidance it can really enhance a lesson. I went to visit the History lesson last week, where they visited the Eastern Front during WWI. When they came out of the VR, they were asked about their visit and their answers were far richer for it. This is technology enhancing good teaching. The VR Headsets themselves are also very relevant as Artificial Intelligence is quickly becoming a part of our world, both at home and in the workplace. So we have a duty to prepare our young people for the working world they will soon be a part of.’

2018 will most certainly be remembered for the incredible summer heatwave. On what may have been the hottest day, the annual Sports Day took place and a number of school records were broken! From mid-morning to mid-afternoon, pupils were running, jumping, swimming and tug-of-warring their way to House victory. All events were in the age categories of Lower School, Junior and Senior. In the track and field events, Shiplake’s girls were representing one of the five main houses and the Lower School battled it out for the Titans and the Olympians.

See the report here, taken from the College website:

First up: track and field! From 100m to 1500m, our boys and girls ran… and then some! Special mentions go to George Lucas, who broke the Junior 400m record with a brilliant time of 58.7 seconds. Also to Joe Kerrison, who incredibly ran 1500m in the Senior Final to achieve a school record of 4 minutes 33 seconds!

Shiplake’s own triathlon star Adam Hunt, Year 10, also set a School record in the Junior 800m Final. In just 2 minutes 15 seconds, he crossed the finish line and earned Bevan the race. Just minutes later, Olivia Morgan won the Girls’ equivalent for Burr house in an impressive 2 minutes, 36 seconds.

Next up was the Long Jump and Shotput! Some brilliant results from the Lower School, none however that exceeded Theo Fewtrell’s Long Jump record of 4m 42cm in 2016. Year 13 Leaver Brett Fullard also retains his Lower School Shot Put record of 9.02m. This year’s Lower School Shot Put was Josh Hamer for the Titans, and the Long Jump belonged to Flynn Wilson, of the aptly named Olympians.

Charlie Burgess managed to leap an incredible 3.8m in the Long Jump and gained the girls’ victory for Skipwith while achieving the girls’ new school record. Congratulations to Will Parton, who won the Senior heat for Lapping, Fyn Brown who won the Junior heat for Welsh and Flynn Wilson who brought it home for the Olympians of the Lower School.

After two hours of non-stop events, the results were in! The Lower School track and field champs were the Olympians, while the Junior league was won by Welsh House and the Senior league was won by Wells-Furby.

After tens of heats, the House Tug of War was left up to either Burr or Everett to claim the victory. After a tense first round, Burr pulled their opponents over the line. After swapping ends, they pulled their way to success in a matter of seconds! Well done to Burr.

On now to the swimming events, held in our very own pool. The boys were put through their paces in the following categories: Freestyle, Breaststroke, Backstroke, Butterfly, Individual Medley, Freestyle Relay, Squadron Relay and the Wells Trawl; a unique race to Shiplake in which competitors must get from one side of the pool to the other, without the use of their arms!

The Junior and Senior Freestyle races saw two new School records beaten. Dylan Hillier of Lapping swam two lengths of the pool in just 28 seconds, while Michael Scanlon of Wells-Furby achieved a brilliant time of 30 seconds. The Olympians dominated in the Lower School heats, while Dylan Hillier brought it home for Lapping in the Junior Breaststroke and Butterfly. For the Senior heats, Michael Scanlon won the Individual Medley, Butterfly and Freestyle, setting two new records along the way.

Organiser and Lower School Housemaster Mr Tom Crisford said ‘it was such an awesome day; I loved every minute of it. It’s my favourite day of the year and if you ask any of the PE and Sport teachers, they’ll tell you the same!’.

Shiplake College hosted the inaugural Tri-Henley Junior Open Water Triathlon with almost 200 children taking part on Sunday 3 June. The competitors who ranged in age from eight to 16 had to complete a swim in the River Thames, a cycle ride and run in the stunning grounds of the College. For a birds-eye view of this brilliant event watch Year 10 Shiplake College pupil, Toby Coles' fantastic video that he filmed and edited. 

Also in 2018:

- It was announced at Prize Giving that after 15 years at the helm, Headmaster Gregg Davies would be stepping down in 2019. Later in the year, Tyrone Howe was appointed as his successor.

- 410 pupils embarked on our biennial sponsored walk and raised over £10,000 for charity.

- The College's ‘More than a Boathouse’ fundraising campaign was launched in spectacular style with a lavish dinner in the sports hall marquee. The event raised over £27,000 for the new riverside Boathouse and Multi-Activity Centre.

- The community came together once again when a team of 45 volunteers, including 20 children, embarked on a river clear up – over 30 bags of rubbish were collected!