Slide Autumn 2020

Headteacher's Message

Welcome to the second edition of our new look Webberzine, which has been brought together in similarly strange circumstances as the first online edition, published at the end of the summer term of 2020.

At the beginning of September we welcomed each other back to school life, although there were a few new routines and procedures we all had to follow to make the return to school as safe as possible. I am pleased to say students and staff adapted admirably to the changes to the way of working we had to adopt.

Midway through September we welcomed Ofsted to the school on a pilot of their planned autumn interim visits. The inspectors who visited us wanted to find out what we had been doing prior to returning in September and to understand the challenges schools were facing after welcoming students back. As this was a pilot visit, there was no formal letter produced, other than a ‘thank you’ letter for our participation and support for their pilot programme.

The autumn term has been busy. Whilst we have had to cancel some of our usual events, such as curriculum days and parents’ evenings, we have managed to continue with adapted versions of other regular features, such as the launch of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Year 11 mock exams.

It has been reassuring and inspiring to see how resilient our students and staff have been, particularly when there was so much speculation in the media about the damage to students’ learning, caused by the national school closures. We increased our school support structures in preparation for the return, in light of these concerns and have found these to be up to the task of supporting all members of our school community.

Our students, supported by their parents and staff in school, continue to thrive and excel. This is exemplified by the students who make it on to our termly ‘Star Boards’ where subject teams nominate students from across the year groups for their performance in lessons. I also have a board dedicated to students who have excelled in my office. These students are pictured to the right, with some of their work.

It has been heart-warming and encouraging to see how our new Year 7s, our largest ever intake, have settled in to school life, supported by their form tutors and class teachers. This support was further enhanced by the introduction of Year 10 Deputy Prefects, who responded to our call for responsible volunteers.

You will also read about our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) Awards Evening, which was our first ever virtual awards event. Mrs Jones, our new Director of STEAM, and Mrs Griffiths, our new Assistant Director of STEAM, curated an online awards presentation, which included an ‘out of this world’ guest speaker. This was then followed by a presentation of certificates in school.

This is just a brief introduction and illustration of all the challenges our school community has risen to, over this past term. Students, parents and staff have continued to work together to ensure we continue to be successful, as this challenging year nears its end.

I hope you all are able to enjoy the Christmas break and the well-deserved rest it should bring. We look forward to welcoming you all back in 2021.

Best wishes,

Mr P J Lowe-Werrell

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the eagle has landed! mws steam success
steam_awards

The annual STEAM awards celebration rewards students for their high attainment or attitude to learning in the STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.) The event usually sees the families of nominated students attending an evening awards ceremony where students find out which award they have won and a guest speaker tells their story and offers advice for the future.

This year things were a little different; at 7pm on Wednesday 18th November the virtual STEAM awards video went live on the school web site. First the winners of the highest achievement in the different subjects were announced before handing over to a very special guest speaker, all the way from Florida, retired NASA astronaut turned artist, Nicole Stott. She described how a love of flying led her to studying aeronautical engineering at university- ‘if you want to know how airplanes fly, why would you not want to know how rocket ships fly?’ She described an initial lack of confidence in applying to be an astronaut before doing the one thing she had complete control over, filling in the application form. The highlights from her career include training in many countries, painting a water colour in space and carrying out a spacewalk. Her advice is that we should all follow the NASA mind set of ‘Here’s how we can, not why we can’t. We believe there is a solution to every problem’

marcelo

Marcelo Ortuno at the Science Museum on the London trip 2019

The annual STEAM awards celebration rewards students for their high attainment or attitude to learning in the STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.) The event usually sees the families of nominated students attending an evening awards ceremony where students find out which award they have won and a guest speaker tells their story and offers advice for the future.

This year things were a little different; at 7pm on Wednesday 18th November the virtual STEAM awards video went live on the school web site. First the winners of the highest achievement in the different subjects were announced before handing over to a very special guest speaker, all the way from Florida, retired NASA astronaut turned artist, Nicole Stott. She described how a love of flying led her to studying aeronautical engineering at university- ‘if you want to know how airplanes fly, why would you not want to know how rocket ships fly?’ She described an initial lack of confidence in applying to be an astronaut before doing the one thing she had complete control over, filling in the application form. The highlights from her career include training in many countries, painting a water colour in space and carrying out a spacewalk. Her advice is that we should all follow the NASA mind set of ‘Here’s how we can, not why we can’t. We believe there is a solution to every problem’

From here we went back to Mary Webb school to discover the winners of the attitude to learning awards. We then heard from two groups of students who had won national awards, Eadie Hall and Holly Morris, runners up in the Big bang competition for making plastic from potatoes; and Jack Jones, Ruby North, Anna Maria Tsvetkova, Pip Roberts and Marcelo Ortuno, winners of the Youth Industrial strategy competition for their mini hydroelectric generator for use in the home. Both groups described how it felt to win and offered advice to other students.

Finally, the video cut back to Nicole Stott who announced the winner of the STEAM student of the year award; well done to Marcelo Ortuno! We are immensely proud of all the students who won awards and it was a pleasure to present them with their certificates and badges in a special assembly.

I would also like to thank the David family for alerting us to the family connection, and to Nicole for very kindly making us the videos. If any other families know of anyone who would make an inspirational speaker we’d love to hear from you!

THEME: LOCKDOWN – a photo took during lockdown or inspired by the concept of lockdown.

THEME: LOCKDOWN – a photo took during lockdown or inspired by the concept of lockdown.

Congratulations to our winners!

We had so many amazing entries that we just had to showcase them all for you below!

Luke Price Year 9

Music in Films Project Autumn Term

Hattie Steele Year 9

History Lock-down Project

History is something that has always fascinated me but we rarely studied it at my primary school because it was not a core subject that we could get tested on. As a result, following my first lesson on that subject at Mary Webb, I became very eager to learn more, having just had my first glimpse of what it was like to study it properly. So, that January, once we had completely settled in, I sent a research piece to Mr Bird and, since then, we have worked on a vast variety of different topics: medieval England and the Peasants’ Revolt, the Suffragettes, the First World War and various forms of propaganda, as well as my personal favourite: medicine through time. I have always loved making connections between different events like, just before the lockdown in March, I had linked the SOE to the Suffragettes to compare how each type of ungentlemanly, and unladylike, warfare was received by the public, for instance. Last year, I also began to study some events with Miss Weston, which involved researching the topics we learned about in class in more detail or from a different viewpoint, and this work, alongside the work I did with Mr Bird, continued throughout lockdown and it offered a surprising amount of stability and kept my interest in history alive even when we could not go to school to learn about it in a classroom.

Until now, the majority of this research has been based loosely around what we do in class but, during the lockdown, I began to learn about new ideas and events, some of which I had never even heard of before! With Miss Weston’s help, I began to research the Russian Revolution and I’m finding it really interesting because it is not necessarily something that I would have chosen to look at, but the similarities between it and the French Revolution, Peterloo Massacre and, basically, any other example of a civil rights movement that attempts to get their ideas heard are actually quite intense, so I like it from that perspective too. Lots of the work I had done before was relatively textbook-based too and this is not really too much of an exception: reading forms the foundations of most of the work I do on the Russian Revolution so that I can get a bit more clarity over certain events and specific people. Interestingly, none of the books that I have at the moment on the Revolution are mine: most of them were tracked down through the school library network and one of them I’m borrowing from Miss Weston but they each have different pieces of information so it is great to have so many sources that I can base my own thoughts around.

In English during Year 9, we study dystopian worlds as our initial unit of work and this includes totalitarian and Orwellian dystopias that lead on to the work we do on ‘Animal Farm’. Having read that particular book, along with ‘1984’ in Year 7, I have been able to fixate upon some of the parallels between the tale of Animal Farm and that of the birth of the USSR so, although we do not learn about it in class currently, this topic has assisted me so far in English too because, hopefully, it enables me to question the symbolism and character traits in a little more detail.

However, the work I have done thus far with Mr Bird has, similarly, been built around reading and questioning but, unlike some of the other topics I had done before, this one was something I had literally never heard of! After stumbling across a term that I had not really understood during lockdown, I decided to ask Mr Bird about it and, curiously, it was a type of history that he had studied at University called ‘subjective history’ or, to give it its proper title, ‘Historiology’. This can be defined as the different interpretations of historical events, which are then connected to form a chain of fact and fiction, often linked by alterations and purifications that have been made by authorities such as the British Government during World War Two. The actual events, or series of events, that we have looked at include the Blitz, Arnhem, the Battle of Britain and the evacuation of Dunkirk. Much of what I have learned about in this overall topic is from a book called ‘Myth of the Blitz’ by Angus Calder, which I found to be an incredible source, that is simply packed full of ideas and points, once you get past the rant-stage of course! Despite the book primarily being on the Blitz, lots of these notions are applicable to the other events we have studied, especially to Dunkirk and Arnhem because those are the two that we have spent the most time on over the course of this term.

Now that the holidays are approaching, some of these topics are drawing to a close for now but that is not to say that I will ever forget them. With that in mind, I am currently working on a final essay on the portrayal of Dunkirk through film (How does the 1958 version compare with the 2017 version?), which is a task that has been made slightly more challenging by the limitation on its length standing at a mere eight pages, following a compromise… Also, with regards to the Russian Revolution, I will endeavour to answer some of the more pressing questions surrounding it before seeing where that takes me after Christmas, although I have already put in a request to study Hitler’s rise to power so we’ll have to see what happens!

Ultimately, there is something for everyone with regards to history but it is up to you as to whether or not you want to look for it or react to what somebody else has found. That is just personal choice yet the fact remains that there will be a time or an idea that has been embedded within our past which will seize your attention. Whether it is the evolution of mankind or the myth surrounding the Christmas Truce and that famous football game in 1914, there will be something for you in history, and that is one the aspects of it that I love because, in a world where we are not allowed to and can not connect physically to each other by standing too close or by sharing a smile that gets lost beneath a mask, we can still be connected to our predecessors and that also links us all together too.

Add a bit of festive cheer with our Christmas Book Quiz!

Click on Rudolph’s nose!