On Wednesday 3rd October 2018 a group of Year 9 students had an electrifying experience.
Dr. Maria Pavlidou and Mr Ian Kemp from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham came in to introduce the group to the wonderful world of electronics, and the concepts behind what goes on inside their favourite electronic devices.
The class of 13 and 14 year-olds were taught how to make “squeekie” circuits, in a complete ‘hands-on’ electronics workshop, designed by Ian Kemp, who is a former teacher, current STEM ambassador and member of the Institute of Physics. Its aim is to teach students technical competency and fault-finding skills, in a fun and safe way.
Introducing them to electronic components such as capacitors, diodes and transistors, Dr Pavildou said that these are items the students may not have encountered previously. They were then taught how to build a complete electronic circuit. This circuit allows students to link the magnitude of the current passing through a test circuit to the pitch of the sound produced by the squeekie, thus providing them with a working continuity and insulation tester (a very basic sort of multimeter).
Once completed, the students used their squeekie to do three physics investigations; allowing them to further extend their knowledge of physics concepts and basic electronics principals, through practical and fun experimentation and discovery. (It was also really, really noisy!!)
Students at this outstanding academy were celebrating another impressive set of results having successfully navigated the introduction of the new GCSE’s.
Matilda De Sa and Amy Jensen were overjoyed having both achieved the new gold standard grade 9 in six subjects with grade 8’s and 7’s in the rest. Equally thrilled, were William Debretton-Gordon, Cameron Davis, Francesca Willin and Isobel Seaward who were among those who achieved grades 9 – 7 in all eleven of their GCSE subjects, with the latter two students also achieving an A and B respectively in AS Level Philosophy and Ethics. Emily Bissett, Matthew Lear, Tyler Morgan, Alice Reast and Matthew Ross also excelled in the new GCSE exams earning a string of 9 – 7 grades across a wide range of subjects, with Harry Brenchley identified as one of the highest performing students in the country (top 1%) in GCSE Further Maths. In total, almost a quarter of all students (23%) in Year 11 gained between 5 and 12 top GCSE grades.
With new GCSE qualifications deliberately designed to be more demanding than the previous GCSEs, and the roll out of the new grading system that runs from 9 – 1 rather than A* – G, detailed comparisons with previous years are difficult to draw. However, over half (52%) of students achieved a ‘strong pass’ (ie a grade 5 or above) in English and Maths, an increase of 7% from 2017 and well in excess of the 39.6% average for schools in England in 2017. Similarly, there were impressive performances in Science with almost four out of five students (77%) achieving at least two ‘standard’ passes (ie grade 4 or above) and well over half (57%) achieving at least two ‘strong’ passes. In addition, there were exceptional performance in Humanities (Geography, History and Religious Studies) with over 80% of entries being awarded a ‘standard pass’ and nearly 70% gaining a ‘strong pass’. In terms of Modern Foreign Languages, not only do significant numbers choose to learn a language with three options to choose from (French, German and Spanish) but achievement continues to be impressive, with 84% of language grades being a ‘standard pass’ and over two thirds being a ‘good pass’.
Beyond the ‘Ebacc subjects’, there were excellent performances particularly in the creative arts where large numbers of students had opted for GCSEs in Music, Art, Dance and Drama. Nine out of ten students (90%) entered achieved a ‘standard pass’ and over three quarters (78%) achieved a ‘strong pass’.
In congratulating students and staff on such fantastic results, John Sanderson, the school’s Principal, said “I’m delighted to see so many students achieving such magnificent GCSE results, particularly with the introduction of the new GCSEs. Staff and students have worked extremely hard and have every reason to feel proud of their achievements this year”. The Principal concluded his comments by adding “with such encouraging results we are really looking forward to welcoming so many of our students, along with almost 70 from surrounding schools, back into our sixth form in September”.