Issue 12 – Full Circle Newsletter – Outdoor Education and Autobiographies

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Vanessa Hall Teacher St Bees School

One of the many great things about St Bees School is our location: set in a lush green valley between the world famous Lake District and the truly magnificent Cumbrian coastline. This is one of the reasons why we put so much store in Outdoor Education as we take advantage of the opportunities to get pupils out of the classroom and learning ‘hands on’. As well as the geological work on the beach at the beginning of term, pupils have now spent time out in the village learning about St Bees and its community. They have met a number of people on their way and we have loved hearing the many positive comments on how splendid they look and how good it is to see St Bees School children back in the village. Whatever the weather, we are looking forward to meeting more of you whilst we are out and about.

Headmaster, Gareth Seddon

If you prefer to download this newsletter as a PDF, you can do so here.

Inside the Classroom

This week’s classroom update comes from Ms Pink, our English and Drama teacher.

On the reading and writing front, the children have been introduced to a range of autobiographies. Their interest was captured by Joe Simpson’s story of survival following an accident on a remote mountain range in Peru. Joe fell during the descent from the mountain and was left dangling on a rope over which he had no control in severe weather conditions. His climbing partner endeavoured, at great risk to himself, to save Joe from the inevitable fate of falling into a crevasse but was finally forced to cut the rope in order to save his own life. The story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates is a climbing legend and Joe’s book has been made into a film and more recently a play.   In class we had an animated discussion about the dilemma Simon faced and the determination it took for Joe to survive. One of the key features we looked at was how expertly Joe structured and built tension throughout his account. Though this is a true life story, it uses many language techniques adopted by fiction writers.

We are now moving on to lighter more entertaining autobiographical writing as we read extracts from Roald Dahl’s autobiography “Boy”. Having considered how dramatic events provide interesting subject matter for autobiographical and biographical writing, we are now looking at funny incidents. Towards the end of term, pupils will be writing their own autobiographical work. Over the next couple of weeks they will be planning, drafting and perfecting their final piece. The aim is to make this piece of writing thrilling and entertaining for their audience.

The last lesson on a Friday is being dedicated to Drama. The first lesson was designed to assist the pupils in getting to know each other. I’d brought along some ideas for ice breaking games but the children had plenty of their own. It was fascinating to see how they interacted and it was wonderful to see how well they got along with each other.

Drama is so much about collaboration and I am really looking forward to facilitating a range of activities  with these pupils such as ideas for stories, scriptwriting, directing and performing.”

Ms Pink

A Welcome Visitor

It is always great to welcome visitors to St Bees School and this week we were able to welcome Rev. Siôr Coleman. Siôr has been a friend of the school for a while and, during his visit, the pupils got the chance to quiz him about the many extraordinary things with which he is involved. They found out that, as well as being a teacher and Baptist minister, he works with a number of charities to support people in difficult circumstances. Their skilful questioning eventually revealed that Siôr is also a BBC radio presenter and producer, and the children were eager to find out more about what it is like to work in the media. Siôr thanked everyone for a great day and wished St Bees School the greatest success.

Meet the Teachers – Mrs Hall

You will have seen a update from Mrs Hall, our Mathematics, Physics and Computing teacher in the previous newsletter. Mrs Hall is the star of our next ‘Get to Know’ section.

What encouraged you to start teaching?

“After graduating from the University of Liverpool with an Engineering degree I was employed by BNFL (as it was known then) to work as an engineering graduate at Sellafield.  I worked as an engineering manager from 1996 until 2003 when I had my 3rd child.  During my career break I started to tutor a few children in Maths and Physics and I found that I had a real love for teaching.

I studied for a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) in secondary maths with the Open University and retrained to become a secondary teacher in 2009.”

Your background shows that you have a passion for your subjects, where did the passion stem from?

My passion for Maths and Physics started at school. I had two amazing and very enthusiastic teachers in these subjects and it fuelled my own love of the subjects.  I was always keen to do better than the boys at school.  Especially in male dominated subjects.

At college I won the E Noel Humphreys Cup for the most outstanding student in Engineering.  I was the first female to win the award and my name is still engraved on the cup at the college for all to see!

I won an award from the Women’s engineering society in 1993 to help me fund my university education. In my second year at university I won the Pilkington Prize.

What do you want to achieve through your teaching?

My main goal is to help the children of today have a positive view of Maths and Science and to eliminate the view that these are subjects mainly for boys.  I am genuinely interested and enthusiastic about my subject and believe I am a positive role model for all of my pupils.

We know you’re the director of a charity, is there anything you’d like to say about that and your other interests?

I am the director of a local charity which is looking at developing a short break centre for families with children with special needs in West Cumbria.

I am a member of the Whitehaven Committed to Rock Choir.  We perform in many concerts raising money for many local and national charities.

Outside of the School my family life keeps me busy. I have two daughters, one son and one stepson. My family also consists of two dogs and two cats.



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