We provide a wide range of educational visits for every year group including Drama and social visits to Theatre productions, Science events at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, student events at local Universities, Art students to Galleries, Business students to local companies and Graphics students to the Didcot Railway Centre.
Here is a highlight of our trips over recent years. For futher details click on the visit name and it will take you to more information:
|Visit Name||Curriculum Link||Where||Year Group|
|First Give Awards Ceremony||Citizenship||City Hall, London||Year 10|
|Lesser-Spotted Sciences Day||Science||Oxford||Year 11|
|French Château 2015||MFL||Rue, France||Year 7|
|Didcot Power Station||Science||Didcot||Year 9|
|Royal Visitor at RAL||Science||RAL, Harwell||Year 12|
|Schools' Open Day at RAL||Science||RAL, Harwell||Year 9|
|Ashmolean Museum||Art||Oxford||Year 8|
|PGL Activity Weekend||Enrichment||Devon||Year 8|
|Galleries of Justice Museum||History||Nottingham||Year 10|
|Wantage Music Festival||Music||Wantage||Years 7 - 10|
|Othello at the RSC Theatre||English||Stratford upon Avon||Year 10|
|Carnegie Awards||English||Wantage||Year 7|
|Salters Festival of Chemistry||Science||Oxford||Year 7|
|Victoria & Albert Museum||D&T||London||Year 9 & 10|
|Poppy Walk||Music||Harwell||Years 7 - 13|
|Ben Goldacre Talk||Science||Radley College||Year 10|
|Dorchester Music Festival||Music||Dorchester Abbey||Year 7 - 10|
|Higher Education Convention||Careers||Reading||Year 12|
|MRC Harwell||Science||Harwell||Year 9|
|Winston Churchill Competition||Public Speaking||Blenheim Palace||Year 8|
|Big Bang Science Fair 2015||Science||NEC Birmingham||Yea r8|
|Big Bang Science Fair - Project Rainbow Jelly||Science||NEC, Birmingham||Year 8|
|BP STEM Day||Science||Pangbourne||Year 10|
|Gifted & Talented Study Day||
|Oxford Town Hall||Years 10 & 11|
|Paris Homestay||MFL||Paris, France||Years 9 - 12|
|Science Study Experience at Disneyland Paris||Science||Paris, France||Years 9 & 10|
|Oxford Music Festival||Music||Headington School||Years 7 - 11|
|Brasenose College||Sixth Form||Oxford||Year 12|
|Oxford Story & Ashmolean Museum Viist||English||Oxford||Years 9 & 10|
|Big Bang at RAL||Science||RAL||Year 7|
|Outward Bound Engineering Trip||Science||Wales||Year 10|
|Chemistry & Art Day||Science||Oxford University||Year 10|
|German Christmas Markets 2014||MFL||Germany||Years 9,10 & 11|
|UK Music Skills Day||Music||St Birinus School||Years 9 - 13|
|St Anne's College||Maths||Oxford University||Year 10|
|Criminology Conference||Psychology||London||Year 11 & 12|
|Big Bang @ Parliament||Science||Houses of Parliament||Year 8|
|Trip to China||MFL||Beijing, China||Year 9 & 10|
|Oxford Courts Visit 2014||Citizenship||Oxford||Year 10|
|EGX Event 2014||ICT||London||Year 13|
|Chepstow Castle||History||Chepstow, Wales||Year 7|
|Wicked Theatre Visit||Drama||London||Year 11|
|Further Mathematics Event||Maths||Royal Hollaway University of London||Year 12|
|Public Speaking||English||Blenheim Palace||Year 7 & 8|
|Galleries of Justice||History||Nottingham||Year 10|
|Stock Market Challenge||Maths||Luton||Year 10|
|RPO with Alexander Shelley and John Williams||Music||Reading||Year 7-9|
|French Château 2014||MFL||Rue, France||Year 7|
|Brasenose College and Natural History Museum||Able, Gifted & Talented||Oxford||Year 8|
|Girls in Maths Conference||Maths||Oxford||Year 9|
|Charlie and the Chocolate Factory||Drama||London||Years 9 &10|
|Zimbardo Conference||Psychology||London||Year 12 & 13|
|Particle Physics Show||Science||Oxford University||Year 9|
|Big Bang Science Fair||Science||Birmingham NEC||Year 8|
|RPO with John Lill||Music||Reading Hexagon||Years 7-10|
What a stunning venue and what an evening! On Monday 12th October, Mr George, Nina Boroch, Millie Carless and Laxmi Gurung travelled to City Hall, London for the First Give National Awards. We were there representing all of Year 10 following their impressive contributions to the First Give scheme last year. In the summer, as part of the initiative, all pupils from the year group researched and visited local charities before competing for the £1000 first prize, which Nina, Milli and Laxmi, along with Hilary Griffiths and Ellie Rivers, won for their work with the Oxford Sexual Abuse Centre. The year group’s work resulted in Didcot Girls’ School and Mr George being shortlisted for ‘School of the Year’ and ‘Teacher of the Year’ First Give National Awards respectively. The feedback given to us by the selection panel was as follows: ‘The concepts of charity, community action and their value in enriching young people are fundamental to Didcot Girls’ School approach to education. The school’s engagement with First Give was fantastic and led to an inspirational final.’
On the night, we were delighted to be awarded second prize in both categories – and that is some achievement! A great night, at a great venue, acknowledging the great work of DGS pupils!
Eight girls from Year 11 took up the challenge to find out more about science subjects which are not usually studied at school, when they took part in the Lesser Spotted Sciences Day at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford University on October 8th. The girls enjoyed lectures on computer science, philosophy, statistics, earth science, engineering, biomedical sciences, materials and biochemistry. They also participated in a tour of St Anne’s College as well as finding out about life as an Oxford student, the applications process and about career opportunities open to those with a degree in a STEM subject.
A big part of the day was the emphasis on mathematics and the way that it underpins all the sciences. The amazing Mathematical Institute building, with its Penrose tiling floor, crystal structure roof, binary clocks and Café π was certainly inspirational. The girls came away with information to support their A level subject choices and an appreciation of where science and maths A levels can lead. Perhaps some of the group will be found studying one of the “lesser spotted” sciences at Oxford in a few years’ time!
Is there a better way to end the year than spending four days with all your friends in a beautiful French château in magnificent grounds, exploring local attractions, tasting local delicacies and learning about the local history? “No!” would have replied the 126 students in Year 7 who went to Rue, in Northern France, last weekend.
They threw themselves into this French adventure with a genuine curiosity and infectious enthusiasm. They certainly made the most of the range of activities on offer and enjoyed every moment. They were a delight to be with and a real credit to their school and families.
We would like to thank all the girls who took part in the 2015 trip and gave us some unforgettable memories! Merci beaucoup! A l’année prochaine!
“I loved getting a taste of traditional things in France like making bread, eating snails and frog legs. It was amazing to be able to understand French culture better. I have enjoyed every minute. The trip was a completely wonderful once in a lifetime experience.” Grace Gilmour “
I enjoyed having freedom in the market and talking French.” Ella Payne “
It was jam-packed with awesome trips which were fun but taught us a lot about French culture and World War I. Overall I was able to spend an epic time with friends!” Suzanna Stewart
Mrs Morris Head of Languages
On Tuesday 14th July, 5 Year 9 students went to look round Didcot A power station to see how the demolition works are progressing.
We were met by Ruth Watson, who works for Coleman & Company Limited, which is in charge of the demolition. After donning our tasteful orange outfits we were led on a tour of the site.
We went into the boiler house to see how they were striping the insides to make it suitable for demolition by explosives, later in the year. We also saw a number of different machines working on clearing what used to be the turbine room. One looked like a dinosaur eating its way through the concrete structure of a building and another with a huge magnet on it that could separate metal from concrete and could carry the weight of approximately 5 Land Rovers.
We also met a structural engineer, who has to plan out how to demolish each building and learnt how he has got to where he is today and which education route he has taken.
I think we were all astounded at how big the power station site is and how much thought and time has to go into the demolition of a building before it can be actually demolished. Thank you to the power station for letting us visit whilst these works are being carried out.
Mrs Thewlis Science Technician
The power of science to inspire young people was celebrated recently by HRH The Duke of York, KG, who formally opened a week-long festival of science, technology and engineering at the Harwell Campus, for which he is Patron.
During his visit The Duke met with a small group of Year 12 students from Didcot Sixth Form, headteachers and teachers from DGS and SBS.
He talked with the students, finding out about their studies and encouraging them to consider a career in a STEM field. He also met young graduates and apprentices who work on the site, as well as seeing what goes on behind the, usually closed, campus doors.
The Duke said, “There are scientists doing all sorts of wonderful things, but they couldn’t do them without the engineers to make it happen. What I’m interested in is trying to encourage that coincidence of activity where young people are inspired to think not only of science but also of engineering, as tools with which they can actually do something constructive.”
He added, “Science and engineering requires flexibility, it requires outside- the box thinking, and that is something that this organisation tries to nurture and find.”
"We want to inspire young people who may not even have considered a career in science and engineering,” said Dr Andrew Taylor, STFC’s Director of the National Laboratories. “'The cutting edge research we do here at Harwell depends on the skills of the outstanding engineers and technicians, who build, maintain and operate our unique facilities. There is a great opportunity for young people to join us and be trained through our apprenticeship scheme in electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering.”
Higher Level Teaching Assistant
On the 8th July, 17 Year 9 girls went to the open day at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in Harwell.
First stop was ISIS, a neutron source used for research in all areas of science from nanoparticles to the environment. After our tour of the ISIS facility we were able to view demonstrations of how to make nylon, as well as having a go at making slime, our own crystal gardens and jelly baby giant structures.
We were then in for a real treat as we got to watch a liquid nitrogen demonstration. It was fascinating to see what happens to LED’s and batteries when they’re placed in liquid nitrogen, as well as what happens to our breath at such low temperatures!
After lunch, and a look around the science fair, we were able to look around the Diamond light source synchrotron. We were lucky enough to be able to go into the rooms that housed the end of the beam lines, where the scientists are able to examine materials down to atomic level.
Finally, we were given three different research proposals and asked to act as a submissions board and decide which proposal would be allowed to carry out their research at Diamond. This was really interesting, as the decisions varied from group to group and we realised just how many considerations there are in making such a big decision. I’d like to say a big thank you to all the girl’s involved for making the trip so enjoyable, for actively engaging in all the tasks and for asking so many great questions! I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Mrs Norton and Mrs Thewlis for assisting us on the trip.
Miss R Miles, Science Technician
On Wednesday the 8th July forty two Year 8 students who will start their GCSE Art and Design and Graphics courses in September visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The girls used this time to discuss, draw from first hand observations and interact with a wide variety of objects, artefacts and works of art and they also had the opportunity to visit the „Great British Drawings‟ exhibition which is currently showing at the Ashmolean.
“We really enjoyed the Art and Graphics trip to the Ashmolean on Wednesday. The Drawing exhibition was really interesting and we really found the caricatures interesting. The artists picked out the most noticeable parts of the person and exaggerated them. We found this very clever and funny.
We drew what we saw and tried to capture the details of the caricatures. After the exhibition we had a chance to go around the whole museum and draw and make notes about anything we found which we liked, so we drew a lot of different things. Overall we really enjoyed the visit and thought that we had learnt a lot.”
Rosie Fagan, Brooke Axendarie & Summer Garvey
Over half of Year 8 has just returned from a spectacular activity weekend at Barton Hall, in Devon, with PGL. While there the girls took part in abseiling, raft building, aeroball, a challenge course, archery, Jacob's ladder, zip wire and a survivor challenge! We speak a lot about growth mindset at Didcot Girls' and this was demonstrated by many of the girls (and staff!) as they overcame their fears and persevered with activities, despite finding some of them very challenging.
One of the most enjoyable aspects for staff was seeing how supportive the girls were of each other and how they encouraged one another to step outside their comfort zones. We saw some natural born leaders emerging in activities such as the challenge course and some incredible team work as the girls negotiated Jacob's ladder.
As always, the girls' behaviour was impeccable and they were a credit to their families and their school. This, coupled with their enthusiasm, made the weekend really enjoyable for all those involved.
On Thursday 25th June, an enthusiastic group of Y10 historians set off for Nottingham to investigate how policing and punishment have changed over time. One of the main parts of the day was a tour of the prison cells beneath the court rooms which show how prisons have changed from the 18th century to the 20th century. We saw a variety of prison cells, the exercise yard (where we read the graffiti scratched in the walls by prisoners who were about to be transported or even executed) and laundry rooms where female prisoners would have done the washing and ironing for the entire prison. We met the terrifying female warder of the Victorian women’s prison who put us through our paces in the exercise yard! The 18th century gaoler was also a force to be reckoned with!
The girls also took part in an object handling activity where they were allowed to study genuine Victorian objects from the museum’s collections and were asked a serious of questions about what the items were and how they would have been used. There were prison and police uniforms (which some girls thought were quite stylish!!), truncheons and the very shocking scold’s bridle (used as a punishment for women who gossiped or swore) – the girls were most indignant that this was only used on women and not men!
There were some temporary exhibitions at the museum which the girls were allowed to explore. We were able to sit in the actual dock from Bow Street’s Magistrates court in London. Some famous and infamous people have been sentenced whilst sitting in this dock – Oscar Wilde, Dr. Crippen, Lord Haw Haw and the Kray twins!
The last activity of the day involved a mock trial in a real Victorian courtroom. Fourteen girls played various roles from the judge to the barristers and even the accused ‘criminals’. The rest of us were either in the jury or represented the general public who came to watch. The case involved three Suffragettes who had been arrested for vandalising public property and causing an obstruction. These Suffragettes were charged with three different crimes and our jury found them guilty of two of them. Our esteemed judge, played with real dignity by Fiona Dalley, sentenced them to custodial sentences. The Y10s participated brilliantly in the mock trial and there are definitely some budding actresses and a couple of future High Court barristers in our History groups!
We were extremely proud of the excellent behaviour of the students on this trip. The museum staff were very impressed indeed! Our students were enthusiastic, mature and thoughtful throughout. We’re now looking forward to using the new knowledge gained on this trip when the girls move up into Year 11. We also wish to thank Miss Miles for supporting us with this visit.
Miss Street and Miss Tilling
Sweet Harmony performed first with an arrangement of ‘Wade in the Water’ which brought success at Oxford and then ‘We are the Young’. The feedback for these two items was fantastic: ‘Very well blended and balanced sound,’ ‘Beautifully controlled dynamics’ which made the adjudicator cry. The end comment was: ‘A fantastic ensemble! You should be proud of yourselves.’
The Chamber Choir then performed ‘Don’t stop Believin’ ‘ with Emily Bayliss holding the solo line. If we thought the feedback on Sweet Harmony was overwhelming, Chamber Choir took it up another notch, with the chorus being declared ‘spine-tingling’. They then followed this with ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, a Chamber Choir favourite. The feedback here described ‘a well controlled, blend and balanced sound.’
Two adult choirs performed as well and, at the end of the day, Sweet Harmony were placed third with 95/100 and Chamber choir were crowned champions with 98/100. This incredible success demonstrates just how far both choirs have come during this school year!
On Wednesday 24th June forty Year 10 students and four staff including Dr Khan, Mr Cross, Mrs Roberts and Miss Klinpikuln went to Stratford upon Avon to watch 'Othello' at the RSC Theatre.
We spent an hour or so strolling around charming Stratford and took some great photographs outside Shakespeare's house. We had our tea by the River Avon before we headed off to the theatre to watch a mesmerizing and unique interpretation of 'Othello'. Some groups have been studying 'Othello' for their English Literature GCSE and the performance brought the play to life wonderfully.
All of us had a truly memorable experience with four inspirational members of staff.
Patricia Dos Santos, Year 10
Today a few girls travelled to King Alfred’s to celebrate the announcement of the Carnegie award. At the event there were a variety of activities linked to the books such as making dolls-cuckoo song . At the awards we met new people and got to learn about genres and books we would not normally read. As we all shared the same passion for something, it was really nice to actually celebrate it and encourage it. First off, we went
round and had a go at various activities and read some information linked to the books. After we had done that we ate lunch and then sat around anxiously for the results. Within our group we all voted for the book that we all wanted to win and the results were a tie between More than this and Tinder. The actual winner of the awards was Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman and there were mixed feelings on the book but overall it was a really exiting, eventful day. If anyone else gets the chance I would highly recommend going because it is a really great experience to have and it will be a day you wont forget.
Jasmine Barnes 7DH
Four enthusiastic and excited students from Science Club represented DGS at the annual Salters' Festival of Chemistry on 11th June. This presitigous event, held at Oxford University in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry gives students the opportunity to take part in extended practical sessions in the University Chemical Laboratories as well as to enjoy an exciting (and noisy) demonstration lecture given by University staff.
Schools travelled from near and far to take part. The lab sessions included identification of unknown compunds using qualitative analysis and chromatography and making indicator from red cabbage, calibrating this using a pH meter and then determining the acidity levels of a variety of substances. The students also tasted ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, prepared chemiluminescent solutions, learnt the difference between combustion and explosion of hydrogen and found out how to "burn" but not destroy a £20 note.
At the end of the day Loiuse Jolley, Heidi Omar, Manpreet Thakur and Imogen Young were delighted to be awarded the prize for 3rd place in the University Challenge practical.
Well done girls!
Many of the girls from Year 9 and 10 GCSE Textiles groups took the opportunity to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum on the 9th June with Mrs Paynter and Miss Cox.
As part of the GCSE Textiles course pupils are expected to research designers of textiles, fashion and interiors and this visit enhanced the knowledge already gained in lessons. The V and A exhibits a large number of historical costumes in their regular costume section and this helped the girls to see for themselves how fashion has developed through the ages. The bonus this time was the additional opportunity to visit the “The Savage Beauty” exhibition of designer Alexander McQueen’s work, which is on at the museum for a limited period.
We spent over an hour in the Alexander McQueen exhibition which showed nearly 300 examples of McQueen’s fashion designs as well as millinery, jewellery, shoes and other pieces by designers such as Philip Treacy, that were used in McQueen’s collections. The exhibition was absolutely amazing and it really was the highlight of the day, although for some girls it apparently didn’t quite beat the excitement of travelling on the train and underground!
“I absolutely loved going to the Alexander McQueen exhibition, admiring his work made me realise that he was not only a fashion designer but an amazing artist. His ideas and collection catch the imagination of anyone who sees them; I couldn’t take my eyes off the shoes, dresses and accessories. Savage Beauty was so breathtakingly beautiful and I’m glad that I got to see it.” Libby Phillips Year 10
“The trip was a great experience which I may not be able to do again. I liked seeing the different fashions through the years and they could give me good ideas for future projects.” Rachel Waterman Year 9
“I really enjoyed the trip because it almost let us into the mind of the designers. All of the pieces that we saw were unique and different, which made the whole experience exciting.” Katherine Grimshaw Year 9
“ ...we made our way to the Alexander McQueen exhibition; let’s just say we were all amazed! We had a fantastic day thanks to Mrs Paynter and Miss Cox.” Olivia Grocutt Year 9
“Our trip was fascinating....we learned a lot about the variety of different materials McQueen used to create his collections. There were many rooms to go into, each having a different theme based on what McQueen was influenced by at the time, including Jack the Ripper, Victorian Gothic and the Jacobite Rebellion. I would recommend other people to visit as there is lots to see and you learn a lot as well.” Emma Barrett Year 10
On Sunday 10th May, whilst the anniversary of VE Day was being celebrated, a group of girls from Didcot Girls’ School were involved with the annual Poppy Walk organised by The Royal British Legion. Two distances were offered, the 5 or 10 mile, and The Royal British Legion kindly offered to donate half of what was raised by members of Didcot Girls’ School to our Sound and Lightening fund.
The girls did themselves proud, not only by completing the distances and staying dry but also getting round in amazing times. We are looking forward to next year’s walk already.
Members of the Year 10 Engineering Club travelled to Radley College on May 6th to join Radley students for a talk by Dr Ben Goldacre on the misuse of science and statistics in medicine, business, journalism and government. Ben Goldacre is a medical doctor and academic as well as a best-selling author, broadcaster and campaigner who specialises in unpicking the misuse of science and statistics by journalists, politicians, quacks and drug companies.
After an informative and highly entertaining hour we had learned a lot about assessing "scientific" evidence presented in the media, how the results of scientific studies can be exaggerated and mislead the public and why health scares occur.
This was an excellent opportunity to hear an oustanding speaker in beautiful surroundings and we are grateful to Radley College for inviting us to join them.
‘I have never heard this school perform before but I was amazed at the quality of part singing and I would love to hear them again.’ This was one comment that came from a member of the audience after the performance of Sweet Harmony and the Chamber Choir on 4th May at Dorchester Abbey.
Sweet Harmony and the Chamber Choir were invited to sing at Dorchester Abbey as part of the Music Festival organised every two years to a packed out venue. It was an amazing privilege to be invited and to perform alongside Cranford House, Magdalen College School, Wallingford School and Blackbird Leys Academy.
Both choirs joined together to sing Mamma Mia and We are the Young, followed by a version of Don’t Stop Believin’ which was lead by an amazing solo from Emily Bayliss and the set finished with the Chamber Choir performing Somewhere over the Rainbow. The girls did themselves proud with the professionalism and quality of musicianship they demonstrated and comments from members of the audience reflected this.
On Wednesday 18th March, all Year 12 students attended the UCAS/Adviza Higher Education Convention at the Rivermead Centre in Reading.
In the Main Hall there were 150 exhibitor stands comprising educational institutions and related organisations, including the armed services. Students were able to talk to representatives from universities, collect prospectuses and investigate the range of options available to them after Year 13. In addition, there were talks running throughout the two days covering student finance and how to choose your HE course.
DSFC students enthusiastically engaged with the event – a great sign for their futures!
On March 23rd a group of keen year 9 Triple Science students had the privilege of visiting the research labs at MRC Harwell which is at the international forefront of the use of mouse genetics to study the relationship between genes and disease. The models the scientists create and study there are used to understand the disease processes that occur when a gene goes wrong.
We had to go through a stringent biosecurity procedure to make sure we did not bring in any diseases which could be transferred to the mice, so everyone had to wear overshoes just to enter the changing room, change into a sterile outfit, remove jewellery and watches and then enter a second changing room where we each washed our hands and arms and sterilised spectacles then donned a sterile boiler suit, shoes and hairnet, before individually going through an airlock where jets of air blew away any dust particles for 50 seconds. Once inside the clean area we saw some of the mice which are helping scientists in their research into diseases such as diabetes, deafness, depression and sleep disorders. MRC Harwell is part of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC), a large-scale collaborative effort to attach a phenotype to knockout mice for every gene in the genome. We learned more about how this can lead to new treatments for human diseases.
Once back in our normal clothes, we toured the research labs, learned more about genetics, saw a scanning electron microscope in action and learned how genetic testing works by carrying out gel electrophoresis in order to identify members of a family affected by a genetic disorder. It was amazing to find out about some of the exciting examples of world-class research right on our doorstep, and to see the interest and enthusiasm of all the students who took part.
Well done girls.
Dr Nickerson and Mrs Thewlis
On Tuesday, five of us competed in the Winston Churchill Public Speaking competition at Blenheim Palace. We competed against nine other schools, speaking about Winston Churchill’s attitudes to women’s rights.
First of all I'd like to start off with the bus journey there; at first we were extremely excited then our emotions changed completely and we became a little hyperactive. Instead of letting our nerves take over we started singing a song called A Wimbo Way. We changed the lyrics to a related subject, women's rights, this lightened our mood and definitely got us ready for a battle!
We were the first to arrive at Blenheim Palace, so this gave us an advantage; we practised for a short while on the stage so we could get used to the microphone and the atmosphere. After many schools arrived we sat back down on the third row, then the nerves kicked in. We started to get excited as we thought about what would come next. The main speakers, Maisy, Tala and me (Anushka), started to realise what situation we were in and where we were. After listening to other schools’ speeches for a while we realised we had tough competition. Finally it was our turn to step up on the stage and to show what we are made of. We walked to the stage with pride, reached the microphone and Maisie started off the speech. I could see in the audience’s eyes that we were engaging them. They looked interested in our women's rights subject and by the end of it, I think we had all successfully communicated our passion for this subject. The questions asked by the judges were very tricky but we answered them confidently. After many speeches and a break there were pictures that we needed to take for the Oxford Mail with Winston Churchill’s granddaughter. After many announcements it was time for lunch and we decided to eat our lunch in the gardens. During the thirty minutes of eating lunch we were all extremely anxious. Then there were the results. Unfortunately we did not win, however we received lots of positive feedback from the judges and the guests. This meant more to us than winning – it was brilliant to receive positive feedback from the people who had listened to, and been inspired by, our speech.
The Blenheim Palace public speaking competition was a phenomenal experience for all of us and I would definitely do this again. Taking part in something so big has definitely given me a different insight into the world around me and given me confidence to do something scary again. Growth mindset in action!
Anushka Swannell 8LMT
On Friday 13th March one hundred Year 8 girls went to the NEC in Birmingham to visit the Big Bang Science Fair, accompanied by a team from the Science department.
During their visit the girls got the opportunity to see how Science concepts studied in school relate to real life applications, such as using chemistry to make a lip balm at the L‟Oreal stall. They also found out about cutting edge scientific research happening right now from the scientists involved, such as finding out about the search for new antibiotics from ants. There were also stands advertising the many different career opportunities in science and engineering. The girls got to see how the science they are learning in lessons fits into the wider world, and take part in different experiments that they would not be able to do at school. The day was a huge success and lots of fun was had by all who went.
The Big Bang Science Fair is the UK‟s biggest celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This year it was held at The NEC, Birmingham, from 11–14 March and a team from DGS were there to showcase their investigation, Project Rainbow Jelly, to over 40,000 visitors.
Jessica Bransby-Meehan, Ellie Marron, Thalia Gurdev, Sophie Cribb and Lucy Freeman had worked together in a Science Club project to investigate how the colour of food affects its taste. They earned a Bronze CREST Award for their work and since it was assessed as “excellent” they were one of three groups from DGS invited to present their work at Alexandra Palace last July. In London, the judges selected them to take their project to the National Finals of the UK‟s School STEM Competition at the Big Bang Fair where each finalist displays and demonstrates their project work to expert judges, visiting school groups and the wider public.
Since then, the girls had worked hard to extend their project, studying how adding colour to drinks makes them taste sweeter. They developed their display and found ways to make it interactive and engaging – which included preparing large amounts of coloured jelly for the visitors at the NEC to taste.
At the NEC, the team did a brilliant job of explaining their project to the many adults and school groups who visited their stand, with the coloured jelly tasting proving very popular. They were recovering from what they had expected to be the most tense part of the day, a visit from the judges, when they were told that David Cameron would be coming to the Big Bang Fair and that they were one of only two projects that he would be visiting! Half an hour later, the approaching crowd of security guards and photographers told them that their VIP guest was arriving and then they found themselves shaking hands with the Prime Minister and telling him all about their science project, although the Cabinet Office had instructed them not to offer him any jelly.
The girls‟ confident and articulate presentation as well as the standard of their work had obviously impressed the judges as well as the Prime Minister and the following day they received another important visitor to their stand. Imran Khan, the Chief Executive of the British Science Association, together with celebrity judges Mark Miodownik, Leena Gade and Roma Agrawal presented the team with the CREST Award for Science Communication and Context, to recognize the real-world applications of their work as well as their excellent communication skills.
The Big Bang Fair ended with the glittering National Awards Ceremony, hosted by Jason Bradbury (The Gadget Show), where the girls all received medals and were excited to hear their names announced by Peter Dickson, the voice of the X factor.
“It was an amazing experience and a pleasure to present our project, and to win as well.” Ellie Marron
“It was a once in a lifetime experience, especially when we met the Prime Minister! He was really interested!” Jessica Bransby-Meehan
Well done girls! You were amazing!
On Monday 2nd March seven enthusiastic year 10 students spent a day at the BP Technology Centre at Pangbourne, discovering some of the ways BP uses science in the workplace. The day was run by inspirational female engineers and technicians from BP who generously gave up their time to give the girls tours of their work areas and explained how they use science every day in their jobs.
The girls then worked in teams with students from other schools: each team was given an oil-based product and some key facts about what benefit it brings and what the key interests of its target audience are. The girls worked together to find a way to prove the product benefit via testing and tie this into a marketing proposal, which they then presented to the BP engineers.
As well as finding out how STEM subjects are relevant to their future careers the girls all completed the product challenge and gave some excellent presentations.
On Thursday 26th February students in Years 10 and 11 from the Ulysses group went to Oxford to take part in a "Gifted and Talented Study Day". The day included 4 lectures from different speakers, including Julie Arliss, lecturer at King’s College in Oxford, and Tom Greggs, Professor at Aberdeen University. During the morning sessions, these speakers helped us to understand theories about the beginning of the Universe, how to answer the question "Do statues move?" as well as taking part in an interesting debate about morality and personal preference. Tom Greggs also led a talk on Artificial Intelligence, which led us to wonder what it meant to be human, and if robots could ever take our place as the primary source of intelligence on Earth. Both of these speakers caused many existential crises in their lectures, however the speeches were incredible and definitely caused everyone to think about more than just what was on the curriculum.
The afternoon session was something completely different, made clear by the speaker, Dr Mark Lewney, taking song requests during the lunch break and playing them on his electric guitar. Dr Lewney then went on to lead the afternoon session into a discussion about the future, about how our modern perception of future life has moved from a utopian perspective to a more dystopian view. There were many 80's film references and demonstrations (including a rubber brick being thrown into the audience) which helped to ease the seriousness of the subject matter! The day concluded with a scientific version of the song Bohemian Rhapsody, as played by Dr Lewney on his guitar.
Overall, the day was outstanding and definitely caused a few brains to melt with the philosophical thinking required! Huge thanks must go to Mrs Ashton and Mrs Jones for organising the trip.
Amy Lockett 11SSA
On a dark and cold Sunday morning, the air was filled with anticipation around Manor Crescent as 57 students, from Year 9 to Year 12, looked forward to discovering all the famous attractions of Paris and meeting French families whose homes and lives they would share for a week. The girls were curious and nervous at the same time because they were about to experience a different way of life and culture. They were also excited as they would soon enjoy the delights of various Parisian attractions with their friends. What a fantastic holiday in perspective!
The trip did not disappoint us as all our expectations were met…and even exceeded. Our packed itinerary offered visits which catered for everyone‟s interests and gave us a unique opportunity to discover two beautiful cities. Our evenings spent with our host families created memories which will last a lifetime as we made new friends and practised our French. Our students truly made the most of this fantastic experience.
Each day saw their renewed energy and enthusiasm for the activities planned. They overcame their shyness as they left their comfort zones to try many new and different challenges with an open mind and great flexibility. Our host families and members of the public congratulated them on their politeness and kindness many, many times.
We all fell under the charm of the winding medieval streets of the centre of Rouen, its historic buildings and imposing cathedral while we were completing a cultural quiz, much to the amusement of the few passers-by and shop keepers who kindly took the time to answer all our questions. Of course, we also made the most of our afternoon in Rouen to shop, with some of us sampling the many cheeses of the Normandy region at the local market while others cleared the shelves of the wellknown cosmetic shop Sephora.
This iconic city of Paris did not fail to impress us and many were heard saying they wanted to come back and see more after the whirlwind of our days in the French capital. It is impossible to decide what was the most impressive and enjoyable between the ride on the Bateaux Mouches enabling a close view of the Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame and so much more, or catching the great panoramic views of the city from the Sacré-Coeur, or feeling the romance of the artistic quarter of Montmartre and having our portraits drawn in Place du Tertre, or contemplating the lady the French call La Joconde in the Louvres…But let‟s not forget the shrieks and laughters we shared in the parks of Disneyland where we all believed we were une Princesse or la petite Minnie for a day – whether we are happy to admit it or not!
It was a privilege and a treat to spend our holiday with such an amazing group of girls! Merci beaucoup les filles!
Mrs Morris, Miss Cunnington, Mrs Luke, Mrs Herniman, Miss Allsworth and Miss Suter
In February half-term thirty eight Year 9 pupils and 2 Year 10’s went on an amazing Science Trip to Disneyland Paris.
While we were there we went on many rides including Thunder Mountain, Tower of Terror, the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Crush’s Rollercoaster which were all brilliant. We also went to some seminars where we learned about the Science of how rollercoasters are designed, how Disneyland Paris was created and about how the Disney Values of Service, Emotion and Creativity are built into everything the theme park does. We then used some of these ideas to create our own rollercoaster rides which we presented to a panel of Disney experts. We stayed in a Western themed hotel, the Hotel Cheyenne, which was cool, and ate out at Planet Hollywood and King Ludwig’s restaurant which had really tasty food.
Overall going to Disneyland Paris was a magical experience and brought out our 'inner child’! We had lots of fun and enjoyed seeing our favourite characters such as Donald Duck, Buzz Lightyear and Tigger!
We would definitely recommend this trip to future years!
By Sadie Goodall, Robbie Notarbartolo, Amy Hayden and Amelia Preece
Entered into the Under 13 Choir class, the group sang the traditional spiritual song 'Wade in the Water' followed by a 2 part arrangement of Robbie Williams 'Angels'. This was the first time a group from DGS had entered into this particular competition.
The girls were awarded with a commended certificate, followed with adjudicator's comments of ' a bright choral sound and well blended', 'good rhythmic definition and bounce', and 'a good sense of style'. There was a real buzz from the whole event and the girls are now looking forward to getting involved with the next Music competition.
On a cold and grey Thursday in February, twenty-one students from Didcot Sixth Form’s Russell Group made the journey to Brasenose College, Oxford. We have developed a strong and sustained relationship with the college over the past four years, which has culminated in both Sam Couldrick (PPE - 2013) and Lydia Hickman (Psychological Science - 2015) securing offers to study at Brasenose. Today’s visit aimed to show our current Year 12 that they can also make the successful transition from Didcot Sixth Form to Oxford University. Two of our Russell Group students describe the day:
Robbie Dadomo-Edgington: The day trip to Oxford University started with a presentation from Dr. Organ who briefed us on Oxbridge as a whole, in terms of courses and applications, as well as providing us with specifics about Brasenose College. We then got a chance to attempt an excerpt from an aptitude test which applicants for Humanities would have to sit in order to be accepted for an interview; the test involved verbal and non verbal reasoning designed to test applicants' problem solving capabilities. Next on the agenda was a tour of Trinity College which is situated just down the road from Brasenose. We were able to see the vast majority of the college, including student accomodation, the 24/7 library, courtyards and the dining hall, which our guide assured us served the best food in the whole of Oxford University!
On returning to Brasenose (after a generous lunch) we were introduced to our undergraduate mentors who study our respective subjects and therefore have a good idea of the steps we should take in order to increase the chances of a successful application. My mentors for English Literature (Oliver and Philip) first discussed the course with me, answering any questions that I had. I then analysed some poems and discussed them with my mentors in an interview style, giving me a taste of what the English focused interview will be like. Finally I was given a copy of the English entrance exam as well as my mentors' personal statements (and email addresses in case I had any further questions) which will both prove to be very useful in the coming months.
The Russell Group trip to Brasenose College, Oxford was certainly enlightening. Oxford University is often regarded as old fashioned or elitist, but as I learned from our visit to Brasenose and Trinity college this certainly is not the case. Granted, the university has been around for a long time, but to be perfectly candid the history that it holds only makes it more interesting. For example, on a tour of Brasenose College from one of my mentors I was told that the college used to own a giant, who reportedly had hands the size of dinner plates! Despite its age Oxford offers a plethora of courses and is a pioneer in many fields, with globally significant scientific research being carried out in its laboratories, such as 'solar glass' to generate electricity. All in all the trip was a very useful way to discover more about university life as a whole, as well as the application process and ways in which to improve my chances of securing a place at such a prestigious university.
Chloe Palmer: The visit to the Brasenose College in Oxford was a real insight into what university life would be like, with regards to accommodation, social activities and independent studies. A personal highlight for me was meeting with a current First year student there, who was interested in the same subjects as me. I was able to ask her all sorts of things about Personal Statements, Entry tests for Oxford and even the universities 'parenting scheme'.
Combined with a short trip to the Trinity College just around the corner, it was an awfully useful day. I would strongly encourage anyone who gets the opportunity to visit an Open Day!
On the 30th of January a group of students from Years 9 and 10 visited the Oxford Story museum and the Ashmolean museum as part of a project that we are involved in. We are working with the Oxford Story museum whose aim is to make the museum more appealing and appropriate for teenagers. In the near future we will be: designing a reading space for teenagers; building a games room and developing new exhibition content.
We were given a tour of the ‘26 characters exhibition’, currently on display at the museum. The exhibition is a compelling display of photographs of many well-loved writers, including Terry Pratchett and Michael Rosen, dressed as their favourite story characters. Additionally, each room of the museum has been carefully crafted to represent a scene from each story – we even got the chance to step in to Narnia itself.
Afterwards, we visited the William Blake exhibition at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford. The exhibition focuses on the life and works of William Blake, a revolutionary poet and painter. Although very busy, the exhibition was highly interesting. As well as having the opportunity to look around the museum itself, we experienced various activities, talks and displays from poets, artists and writers who have all been inspired by William Blake.
All of the students involved had a fantastic time and we are very much looking forward to working more with the museum.
Laura Couling 10JMS
On Wednesday 28th January, I took eight Year 7 girls to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories for a day of scientific exploration and fun activities. Students interested in science always find a trip to the facility exciting, there is increasing awareness of the importance of the laboratories being sited in South Oxfordshire, and many girls know someone who works there.
On arrival, there was an opportunity to explore the hands-on educational centre, before being whisked off to the first activity, which was to guess the function and application of various pieces of equipment that were presented to us. During the course of the day, the girls made their own meteors (dirty snowballs), constructed a go-kart from straws and cardboard that had to be propelled by the release of air from a balloon; played along with some quiz show questions and answers and watched four scientists’ presentation of their field of research in STEM’s Got Talent before voting on an electronic pad for their favourite.
As usual, the girls’ behaviour was impeccable, hands shot up constantly to answer questions and volunteer information at every activity and the enthusiasm shown for each task was fabulous to witness. Well done to Lucy Coull, Imogen Young, Tara Allinson, Jessica Fuller, Maisie King, Laura Shankland, Manpreet Thakur and Suzanne Stewart for making the day as much fun as it was and making the staff of DGS proud to accompany you.
Ruby Norton - Science Technician
Seven intrepid members of Engineering Club recently spent a week "Outward Bound" in Wales, thanks to the support of the Smallpeice Trust who arranged the event and assisted with funding. The girls took part in a residential course packed with real challenges and adventures to give them the confidence to make informed decisions about their future careers, develop teamwork and communication skills and to learn more about engineering.
As part of a team the girls completed a two-day expedition which included climbing a mountain (in the snow) while carrying all their kit for an overnight stay in a basic log cabin in the woods. They also constructed a flagpole on the beach, built a raft and successfully paddled it down a river, negotiated a maze, gave presentations and learned about engineering from inspirational female engineers who joined them for the activities.
All the students worked in teams with girls from other schools, taking part in every single activity and challenge, even though some of these extended them well beyond their comfort zone.
During the course the instructors identified 2 students, Megan Humphrey and Emilia Harrison, who both showed exceptional commitment to the programme and nominated them for a Scholarship worth over £800. This can be used to attend The Outward Bound Skills for Life Award which is a summer programme for individuals designed to help them make an effective transition into sixth form, University or work.
The girls taking part were Emelia Harrison , Bethany Hayden, Megan Humphrey, Michaela Murphy, Georgia Paxton Doggett, Chloe Tucker and Hannah Young. Well done girls - you were amazing!
On 7th January Vika Ball, Emelia Harrison, Megan Humphrey, Georgia Paxton-Doggett and Chloe Tucker from year 10 spent a day at Oxford University exploring links between science and art, following the theme of perspective. The day began with a session in the Ashmolean Museum to study and discuss carvings and paintings from the ancient Assyrians to the Renaissance, to discover how artists' use of perspective has developed over time. The group then went to the Museum of the History of Science to explore the link between the science of optics and the invention of linear perspective during the Renaissance, illustrated by optical demonstrations. The students experimented with the use of the camera obscura for drawing and compared this to freehand sketching, developing their knowledge of lenses and the nature of light.
In the afternoon they modelled compounds, discovering the importance of perspective in Chemistry for understanding the interactions and properties of organic molecules and the value of understanding molecules in 3D rather than 2D. The group also enjoyed lunch at Hertford College and a tour of the college to find out what life as an undergraduate there would be like.
It was an interesting, challenging and inspiring day, thanks to the University staff who gave up their time to lead the different sessions. Perhaps some of these students will be found studying at Oxford in a few years' time.
Students from year 9, 10 and 11 spent four exciting days in Germany experiencing the Munich Christmas markets and visiting our partner school in Planegg. The girls spent a morning in the school meeting their pen friends and going to a variety of lessons including Music, Science, Sport and English. The students could get to know each other better with a range of activities over the weekend including Bowling, exploring a Museum and Markets and a visit up the Olympic tower with panoramic views over Munich to the mountains beyond.
The German teachers were very impressed with our group calling them 'perfect'. We look forward to welcoming the German students and teachers back next year to continue our close links with our twin town Planegg.
Karinna Strafford, Year 11, said: 'Being able to have the opportunity to visit our penfriends in Planegg is amazing and all the students are very welcoming. I have enjoyed going to my pen friends lessons and I think they are very different. I found it interesting that they start at 8am and finish at 1pm and that they fit so much learning in to 45 minutes. Over all everyone is so kind and enjoyable to be around and we have all enjoyed our stay a lot.'
On Friday 5 December Didcot Girls‟ School took part in a Music Skills & School Workshop organised by PRS for Music and UK Music.
Students from Didcot Girls' School and Didcot Sixth Form took part in this amazing event at St Birinus School. Professional songwriters and composers joined the workshop to teach students about the music industry and how to write and produce music. The day started with MP Ed Vaizey opening the event and a panel of experts talking to the students about their experiences and taking questions. The panel consisted of Crispin Hunt, Jake Shillingford, Oritsé Williams, Rita Campbell and Simon Pursehouse. They spoke about how they got into the music industry, the basics of copyright and careers within the music industry.
The panel then split into groups to work with the students. They gave them the brief to write the next Christmas #1! Joining the panel were Damian Coldwell, Emily Hall and Jo Dudderidge, all songwriters who work extensively in the music industry. During lunch breaks Oritsé Williams chatted to students whilst signing autographs and posing for lots of selfies. He was definitely a hit with the girls & boys!
After working in groups the children then came together to perform their brilliant Christmas songs! The school was also featured on the BBC Oxford news on Friday 5 December.
Year 10 Trip to St Anne's College, Oxford University by Jessica Hollis 10SEW
On Friday 28th November, some high aiming Year 10s went on a trip to St Anne's College in Oxford. We arrived at the train station in Oxford at around 1pm and walked to the college. On the way Mr
Finlay pointed out the new maths department of Oxford University which looked very innovative and contemporary. When we arrived we were greeted by Shona, the Outreach Officer, who lead us to a seminar room. She talked to us about how university life was different to school and explained how universities varied from one-another. We were then introduced to two students who answered all of our questions. We found out about the many clubs and societies you can belong to such as quidditch and rowing. They also gave us an insight into the range of different subjects and the social events on offer. Shortly after, the students gave us a tour of the college which included the library, coffee shop, lecture theatre, dining hall and accommodation. It was very interesting as most of us had never been inside the college before. Lastly, we took part in an intriguing quiz about which courses celebrities chose to help us think about what we would do. We even got the chance to design our own new university courses; theseincluded 'The history of mermaids degree' and 'The food eating degree'. Overall the trip was very inspiring and gave us a lot of useful information about university as a whole. It also allowed us to think more about what subjects we are interested in as-well as how to achieve a place at university.
In November, year 11 and 12 psychology students had an amazing opportunity to go to a conference in London to meet famous Psychologists and discuss their research with them. They heard from a number of famous criminal psychologists, including Professor David Wilson who worked as a prison Governor and appears on many criminal documentaries commenting on the Psychology of criminal behaviour.
The students dispelled myths about crime, including how a lot of the technology shown on crime dramas simply does not exist, or cannot perform the complexity of task shown on such shows. They worked with criminal psychologists to analyse the case of a British Hitman, and explored how the public’s reaction to crime and punishment has changed throughout history. They were delighted to be able to interview Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, a convicted bank robber who spent the greater portion of his adult life in prison, and had the opportunity to learn about how Smith’s upbringing and treatment by the authorities impacted his adult decisions.
The year 12 students were particularly pleased to hear from Lyndsey Harris, the admissions tutor at Birmingham City University, who gave invaluable advice about writing personal statements when applying to study Psychology or Criminology at university. The students’ behaviour was exemplary and I was extremely proud of how well they represented the school, especially as they were the youngest students present.
Five Year 8 students took their award-winning science investigation Project Rainbow Jelly to Westminster recently to share their ideas with MPs. They joined nine other National Science and Engineering Competition finalists at The Big Bang @ Parliament on Monday 3rd November.
The Big Bang @ Parliament gave politicians, policy-makers and the business community the chance to meet our students and other young scientists and engineers, and to experience the inspiration behind The Big Bang Fair, which takes place in Birmingham in March.
Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Sc ience and Tec hnology Committee and host of The Big Bang @ Parliament said: „There are two parts of this event today, the first is to give young people the opportunity to come to the centre of decision making and display their fantastic projects. The second is to encourage some of my parliamentary colleagues to think more carefully about the importance of science and engineering in the world we‟re trying to influence
.‟ Shadow Minister, Liam Byrne said: „These young people share one thing in common - they want to make the world a better place. Science, engineering and technology is one of the ways you can make that dream, that mission come true‟
Well done to Jessica Bransby-Meehan, Sophie Cribb, Lucy Freeman, Thalia Gurdev and Ellie Marron who confidently and articulately explained their project to the MPs, Lords and VIPs at the BigBang @ Parliament
On 22nd October Students from years 9 & 10 arrived at Beijing airport, excited about their school trip to China. Excursions included visiting a Chinese School, seeing Tiananment Square and the Forbidden City pus a trip to an orphanage outside Xi'an. Below is a piece writted by Rosie Kent & Laura Couling about their experiences on the trip:
In October, fifteen students from Didcot Girls’ School spent ten days exploring China, visiting famous historical sites and modern attractions in both Beijing and Xi'an.
Our particular highlight of the trip was conquering one of the wonders of the world:.
“The Great Wall of China”. We visited a private section of the wall which meant that there were very few people, other than ourselves. The 10k climb was tiring, nonetheless, an experience we will treasure forever. Amongst many other once-in-a-lifetime activities were, a visit to an orphanage, a 14km cycle around the Xi’an wall and a visit to see the terracotta soldiers. We had lots of opportunities to try the Chinese cuisine from several restaurants and supermarkets. Although it wasn’t at all like the Chinese food in England, it was very interesting to try. We travelled between places by mini bus, which presented us with great opportunities to take in the surroundings and culture. We all very much enjoyed visiting all of the Chinese markets and buying items such as bags, clothing, electronics and souvenirs; all for such low prices.
Gripped Year 10 Citizenship students sat in the public gallery and listened attentively in court, as we observed trials taking place in the Oxford Crown Court followed by Oxford Magistrates Court.
To complement their learning of Law as part of their Citizenship Studies, we witnessed first hand the British criminal justice system in action. It was a day of real emotion, drama and great learning as we heard and saw some sad realities in our society being dealt with in a democratic fashion. One thing is for sure: this was a day and experience that those who attended will never forget.
On Friday 26 September, nine eager A Level Computing students travelled to Earls Court, London to participate in the European Games Exhibition.
EGX is the UK's biggest and best games show, offering visitors the opportunity to play the biggest console and PC games before they're released. During the trip we found out that the gaming industry offers fantastic opportunities for emerging Computing students and Friday’s trip certainly demonstrated its popularity amongst a huge range of people. The sights and sounds were invigorating and the excitement was tangible, even as we were queuing to enter the event, the parade of costumes was impressive.
As well as sampling the latest games and technology, students had the opportunity to listen to developer sessions, watch fellow gamers compete against each other, watch ‘cosplay’ sessions and discuss their future plans with universities and potential employers. ‘Indie’ games were also available to sample and showed that big budgets are not always necessary.
Below are a few comments from our students, which really demonstrate the enthusiasm and excitement that the trip generated:
"The Computer Science trip to EGX in London was fantastic. A lot of the game developers, whilst advertising their products, were giving away free merchandise and sampling games was fun, Elite: Dangerous was immensely fun to try. I’d say the most interesting thing was visiting some of the developer sessions for games, for example Assassin’s Creed Unity springs immediately to mind, as it showed behind the scenes footage, alpha game-play and, again, gave away some free merchandise."
"The computer science trip to EGX (Euro Gamer Expo) was fantastic. We took in a large amount of information regarding the development of games as well as the different types of games there are out there. My aim is to become a games developer and I know that the degree I need for university is BSc Computer Science to pursue this career. As well as the informative side of the trip, it was great going out with my classmates and teachers, getting to know each other whilst having a great time."
"I think that the best part of the trip was seeing how much computer systems, in particular gaming, have spread into such a wide social network and how people appreciate technology more than ever."
"The highlights for the trip for me were listening to game developers talk about how they made their games and their inspiration for their work. Playing games that weren't even out yet."
Mrs Mullaney and Mr Rees
On a very sunny Tuesday 15th July, 168 girls in Year 7 visited the oldest stone castle in Britain at Chepstow, Wales, to investigate what it can tell us about life and changes from the Medieval to Tudor period. As well as getting a suntan and showing off some wonderful hats, Year 7 undertook research as historians for the day, each completing a booklet with tasks examining all aspects of castle life. The girls worked out the best way to attack the castle, raced to the top of Marten’s Tower to see how the lords of the Castle attempted to impress visitors, worked out where the kitchens and toilets were, and explored every inch of the site. They also sketched the features of the square keep (ask a Year 7 if you don’t know!), and learnt about the story of one of the greatest knights of the Medieval period whose home this was, William Marshall. Many finished the day with a well earned ice cream before choosing a ‘Historian of the Day’ from each tutor group. They were chosen for their enthusiasm, questioning and booklet, and were awarded a ‘Build Your Own Castle’ prize in front of the imposing castle walls and barbican.
The winners were:
Ebony Charles (7DFF), Amy Collins-Wheeler (7PLP), Annabel Cotton (7ZW), Sophie Foster (7VPM), Niamh Kennedy (7LMT), Beth Lally (7LC), Jessica North (7SSG) and Lottie Woods (7ASO).
All the staff accompanying the girls on the day spoke of how exemplary the behaviour of the girls had been during the day, which meant we enjoyed it hugely as well. Well done and thank you, Year 7!
Mr Lawton and the History Department.
Year 11 Wicked Visit
On Thursday 4 September Year 11 travelled up to London to see the musical Wicked, the untold story of the wizards of Oz. It was a fantastic show which tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a blonde and popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl called Elphaba. Students and Staff alike were blown away by the cast and cotumes and thoroughly enjoyed all the musical numbers, particularly the hit song Defying Gravity which had us all up and singing along!
Exploring Maths Event
On Monday 30th June the Year 12 Further Mathematicians had to get up at a ridiculous time of the morning to get to Royal Holloway University for an Exploring Maths day. We caught the 07:48 to Reading and then took a train on to Egham. Once there Mr Finlay took us around the scenic route to get to the campus but we eventually arrived where we were supposed to be.
Once at the university we were given some leaflets on degree level maths and a prospectus, but more excitingly a jute bag with the university logo on it! The first lecture we were given involved a quiz, correct answers were rewarded with chocolate; amazingly, using our Binomial Distribution skills we won some prizes. The more chocolate we consumed the better our answers became! A juggler then got up to talk us about the maths behind his trade; this was very entertaining and interesting.
The first lesson we attended was on “Prime, Perfect and Amicable numbers”, which I will not explain because it is incredibly complicated and you will require an ego boost afterwards. Lunch was then eaten; this consisted mainly of sugar, although Chris did have an apple. We then had a look around the university campus and found the most important places; the bar, vending machines and maths department. Our second lesson was on “The mathematical constant pi”, this again got complicated very quickly, but some of us managed to get a selfie with the lecturer, thus the entire thing was deemed to be a great success.
The final lectures were about “Mathematics at University” and the ‘Shape of Space’. Unfortunately on the way back to the station disaster struck and we almost drowned in a torrential rain storm. Only one of us had thought to pack an umbrella and no-one had a raincoat. The train home was ever so slightly delayed so Sir suggested we jumped upon a goods train, we gave him a stare of discontent that only a Mathematician can achieve.
To conclude a lot of Maths was learnt, even more selfies were taken, and many, many grams of chocolate were eaten.
Samuel Hall 12RBB/PMB
Public Speaking Competition at Blenheim Palace
On Tuesday 24th June we took two teams to compete in the Sir Winston Churchill Public Speaking Competition at Blenheim Palace. Our competitors were Hannah Kellington, Daisy Norton and Charlotte Matthews from Year 8 and Milly Norman, Amy Jones and Jasmine Heelas from Year 7. It was such an incredible day; the sun was shining and when we arrived at the Palace we were shown into the Orangery - which looked like a very exclusive wedding venue (the girls were thrilled with this).
We heard an address by His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, which started the day and set the tone for what would be an amazing experience for all our girls. We were then shown to the Marlborough room, and our girls could finally see the venue they would be delivering their speeches. This was the culmination of many months of work - after visiting Blenheim just before Christmas to see the Winston Churchill exhibition. We were also lucky enough to receive support from the education officer at Blenheim who visited the girls in school prior to the competition.
We had to choose two quotes from the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill and deliver a discussion on how we feel these quotes could be applied today. Our topics were:
'Harsh laws are at times better than no laws at all.' Would you agree that this view should be applied to all schools? WC 1906
'There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained' WC 1948 In our 'broken society', does this sentiment still hold true today?
The girls were superb and delivered articulate, engaging and thought provoking speeches.
After a well deserved lunch and a wonder around the grounds we assembled for the results, and heard Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill give a short presentation.
Although we did not win our category we were thrilled to be a part of such an exciting day. There were 12 teams, and only 1 prize, but the girls rose to this challenge, and received some wonderful feedback that was full of praise.
The only task left was to receive our certificates of participation, along with a wonderful book on the life, times and speeches of Winston Churchill. We also spent some time with one of the judges - actor Robert Hardy, who has played Winston Churchill many times, but the girls probably know him best for his role as 'Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic'. He was able to sign some of their Harry Potter memorabilia, and pose for a photo!
The girls were thrilled to be a part of this day, and are already looking forward to returning next year. A huge well done to the competitors and a big thanks to the supporters from the Public Speaking club,
Miss Lee and Miss Tilling
Y10 History trip to the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.
On Wednesday 18th June, an enthusiastic group of Year 10 historians set off for Nottingham to investigate how policing and punishment have changed over time. Our first activity involved a mock trial in a real Victorian courtroom. Fourteen girls played various roles from the judge to the barristers and even the accused ‘criminals’. The rest of us were either in the jury or represented the general public who came to watch. The case involved three Suffragettes who had been arrested for vandalising public property and causing an obstruction. Needless to say our jury of 12 DGS students found the women not guilty!! However, we did learn that, at the time of their arrest, they would have faced an all-male courtroom and their chances of being let off would have been far slimmer. We also learnt that, for many Suffragettes, they would have wanted to go to prison as this gained them greater publicity for their cause. The Year 10s participated brilliantly in the mock trial and there are definitely some budding actresses and a couple of future High Court barristers in our History groups!
In the afternoon, the girls took part in an object handling activity where they were allowed to study and handle objects from the museum’s collections and were asked a series of questions about what the items were and how they would have been used. The oldest item was an 18th century tipstaff (if you don’t know what that is – ask a Year 10 historian!) and there were also prison and police uniforms, truncheons, a scold’s bridle (used as a punishment for women who gossiped or swore) and a rather battered wooden head used for keeping a judge’s wig in shape!
The final activity was a tour of the prison cells beneath the court rooms which show how prisons have changed from the 18th century to the 20th century. We saw a variety of prison cells, the exercise yard (where we read the graffiti scratched in the walls by prisoners who were about to be transported or even executed) and laundry rooms where female prisoners would have done the washing and ironing for the entire prison. Some students experienced the inside of the cells and others had their “mugshots” taken in prison uniform – this seemed a surprisingly popular activity!
We were extremely proud of the excellent behaviour of the students on this trip. They were enthusiastic, mature and thoughtful throughout. We’re now looking forward to using the new knowledge gained on this trip when the girls move up into Year 11.
Miss Street and Mr Lawton
Stock Market Challenge at the University of Bedfordshire
On Tuesday 17th June 2014, ten year 10 students went to Bedford University to take part in an inter-school stock market challenge. Our school was able to take two teams of five students to compete against the other schools. In our teams we each took on an individual role of either Finance Manager, Media analyst, investment analyst and Floor traders (buyer and seller). The aim of the challenge was to buy and sell shares for different companies to get a large amount of profit by the end of the game. We had to listen out for news reports, radio broadcasts and read newspaper articles at the beginning of each day to decide how well the company was doing financially and whether it was worthwhile to buy shares. The idea was to buy shares when the stocks were low and sell them when the stocks were high to give us the most amount of profit. However, it was often hard to judge how well the company would do so we had to analyse all of the information to ensure we bought shares that would make a profit. It was a really fun day and we got an insight into the stock marketing world and the careers involved with it. We improved our analytical skills and team working skills as well as putting maths skills onto a real life context whilst working under pressure. Both DGS teams finished in a great position. One team came 5th out of 17 teams and the other in 8th place. It was a great day and a really interesting experience of the economic world.
By Georgie Fisher 10HXP
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Visit at the Reading Hexagon
On Friday the 6th of June, I, along with other students of Didcot Girls School, travelled to Reading for a classical music concert.
We caught a train to Reading at half-past six, smiles of anticipation on all our faces. Once at the station, we walked to the Hexagon Theatre and stood in the foyer next to all of the other eager, classical music lovers. We then filed into our seats on the right of the theatre, all pleased with our clear view of the orchestra, and waited for the musicians to start playing.
The audience was transfixed from the moment the conductor appeared on stage. He was greeted with a round of applause, and then began the first movement of the composition ‘In the South (Alassio) Op. 50, by Elgar’. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra played with skill and verve, their instruments in total harmony. Each musician, though utterly concentrating on their own notes and the conductor, was perfectly synchronised in their movements and created a beautiful sound that reverberated throughout the whole theatre. The next composition was ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’, by Rodrigo. This composition received the most amount of applause, as playing the main guitar solo was Jon Williams. Jon Williams is considered by many to be the most skilled guitar player in the world. His hands moved up and down the guitar at a high speed, producing a complex melody and enamouring the audience in one stroke of his fingers. His musical ability was extraordinary, and this was shown in his glowing solos within the composition. Williams also engaged the audience with his charismatic smile and warm grins.
In addition, the orchestra was conducted by a talented musical artist, Andrew Shelley. Born in 1979, Shelley was awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition, and was described having an ‘immaculate conducting technique.’ He added style and energy to the composition and kept the orchestra in beat throughout.
We listened to two more compositions – ‘Guitar Concerto’, Goss, and ‘An American in Paris’, Gershwin. Each movement remained at the high standard of the last, and the final movement of ‘An American In Paris’ was finished with triumph and vigour.
I am sure that each student who attended this concert enjoyed it thoroughly, and the excitement of the night did not end until we said our final goodnights. The opportunity to watch classical music such as this was amazing, and I am really glad I came to watch it. I was inspired by the pure skill of each member of the orchestra, and now am eager to continue playing piano and perhaps another instrument.
Milly Norman 7LMT
French Château Visit – May 2014
Over the first May Bank Holiday weekend, 106 students in Year 7 enjoyed a taste of what life in France is really like! They threw themselves fully into the experience of a different culture as they were very curious (quite understandably) about the farming of snails and the making of goat cheese. They were all happy to sample different cheeses and most could not resist the famous French delicacies of snails and frog legs…some even had seconds!! Miam miam!
The girls also made the most of their visits to put their knowledge of the language into practice and they were delighted to see how fluent they have become over the past 4 terms. The waitresses at the café in Rue complimented them when they ordered an ice-cream or a hot chocolate, and our very welcoming hosts at the farms and the bakery were extremely pleased with the girls’ responses to their presentations, which were mostly in French.
The visit to the battlefields and memorials of the Great War offered the opportunity for reflection and remembrance. The girls showed maturity and empathy as they discovered facts and pictures of the battle of the Somme and life in the trenches. They were thoughtful as they read the names of the “Missing of the Somme” and their silent walk around Thiepval conveyed their respect and emotion, as some looked for relatives on the graves or columns of the monument.
To the memories of trying new food, speaking French to real French people, discovering and accepting different customs, remembering a moving period of our history, the girls will undoubtedly add those of unique moments shared with friends – from the hilarious challenges of the Château Olympics and the unforgettable moves of the disco to the tension of the room inspections!
Finally the girls were such fantastic ambassadors of the school and their families that we would love to take them away again… Where should take them next year, Miss Pearl?
Bravo les filles! Vous êtes vraiment géniales!
and from the girls......
“I had a fantastic time in France and would definitely love to go again! The highlight of my trip was going round the market with the tour of Rue. It let me explore and find out more about France and its history.” Megan Thomas, 7PLP
“The Year 7 residential trip to France was amazing. On the journey everyone was buzzing with excitement. All of the activities were creative, active and very fun! The best part was on the last night at the disco when Miss Pearl got very excited and energetic! I would definitely recommend this exciting trip to anyone who is up for an adventure!” Milen Linsley, 7 ASO
“I loved every part of the French trip as I had the time of my life! The highlight was probably eating snails and fog legs. I wasn’t a fan of the snail however I loved the frog legs!” Jessica Bransby-Meehan, 7 PLP
“The French trip was an amazing opportunity that I would advise others to take it is a holiday you will never forget! Each day was interesting, full of joy and learning. Not only did we learn so much about Rue and France but also about one another and the teachers. I spoke to so many people that I had never met before. My favourite day was the market where I hung around with my friends, got some real bargains and ordered a delicious ice-cream in French!” Ellie Richmond, 7 ASO
Brasenose College Oxford
On 7th May a group of Able, Gifted and Talented girls from year 8 went on a trip to Brasenose College and the Natural History Museum in Oxford. We were all really enthusiastic about going on the trip but we weren’t sure what to expect.
First we visited the Natural History Museum. The museum looked very grand; there were pillars all around the museum made of different types of rock. This was because when the museum first opened people wanted to show off what they knew about geology.
To start with we were shown lots of different artefacts including an elephant tooth which came from Heathrow airport (someone had tried to smuggle it through customs). It was also really interesting to see the preserved animals, some were stuffed and some were pickled. We learnt a lot about what they could be used for and what we can learn from them. There were also live animals in the collection because scientists at the museum can study their behaviour and way of life. As part of their collection the museum had some live cockroaches which many of us held. It was definitely an interesting, if somewhat, scary experience.
Once we had explored around the museum by ourselves we went to Brasenose College. In small groups we were given a tour around the College by some undergraduates. We were shown some of the undergraduates’ rooms as well as the Chapel, the Hall and the Junior Common Room.
We had lots of opportunities to ask questions about college life. One of the more interesting questions was, “How do you decide what to wear every day?” We also found out what the daily routine for them is like and what they do in their spare time.
Overall we had a really good time on the trip. It was inspirational to see where we could be in a few years time! Thank you to Mr Finlay and Miss Tilling for taking us on this great trip.
Ceri Jones 8KAP
Girls in Maths Conference
On Friday the 25th of April, a group of Year 9’s accompanied by Mrs Irwin and Mr Finley visited the Institute of Mathematics at Oxford University for an afternoon of different Mathematical activities. We got to master how to win games of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ and ‘Monopoly’ as well as learn how maths is vitally essential in everyday life. We really enjoyed our afternoon and got to meet people in other schools who are also interested in Maths. It was a welcoming venue and we were glad we got the opportunity to go.
By Ruth Hall 9SMR and Michaela Murphy 9 SJG
And Mrs Irwin adds:
It was a very entertaining day. My favourite parts were:
- Watching Michaela Murphy take on the Coke v Pepsi challenge and correctly identify all 8 cups by taste!
- Discovering that there are statistical ways to increase your chances of winning “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and “Monopoly”, and
- One of our groups being the only group to get the correct answer to the Amelia problem! (a challenge using various pieces of information and carrying out calculations to solve a logistics problem)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - 3rd April 2014
Going to the theatre to see “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was a great experience. The actors were very professional and performed their lines with extreme energy. Considering most of the cast were young children, they did a marvellous job. The set was also so realistic and clever.
I would definitely go and see it again and would highly recommend anyone considering a trip to the theatre to see this production. There is something for everyone with all sorts of catchy music, fun, action and adventure. The songs were amazing, fresh, new and a whole lot of fun.
Thank you, Mrs Parkington, for taking us to see such an incredible West End Production.
Grace Hayward 10LKM
Zimbardo Conference – 25th March 2014
On March 25th a group of current AS and A2 level students went to the Emmanuel Centre in London to experience a conference between several colleges and a number of famous psychologists; including the ‘legendary teacher’ Dr Zimbardo. The trip started with a very early start at 7.30 am before reaching Emmanuel Centre at 10.30 am.
The conference began with a talk from Phil Banyard, the former Chief Examiner with OCR. He entertained the audience with a clever insight into his chosen topic of ‘Who am I?’ by combining his knowledge on the subject with comedic commentary. The conference continued with a talk from the host, a widely published author of A level Psychology books, Clara Flanagan, who spoke about Ecological Validity and how she has looked at the idea in-depth. This proved to be very beneficial to all the students as validity is a major factor within our studies and this gave us an expert’s opinion on how validity should be studied. An excellent talk on ’saving face through murder’ was then given from Professor David Wilson. He involved all of the students by passing round microphones and letting them give an answer to any questions he would throw at us about his chosen topic, resulting in a fascinating and intellectual discussion between him and the audience.
After a short break we then received the much anticipated talk from the brilliant Dr Zimbardo. He spoke about his experience within the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment as well as touching on Milgram’s research into obedience. Zimbardo’s discussion was interesting and intellectual while also being charming and funny as he struggled with the technology and wore a t-shirt with his face on the front! Dr Zimbardo then introduced his wife, Professor Christina Maslach, who spoke about her experience into heroism within the Stanford Prison Experiment and also her own research into ‘burn out’. The trip ended with Zimbardo introducing us to his new scheme, the ‘Heroic Imagination Project’ and giving each school a signed picture of himself (ours will be framed very soon).
The trip was very beneficial in understanding details within the studies and also entertaining to see famous psychologists speak about something they are so passionate about. This inspired us, as students, to continue in our studies to one day reach the level these Psychologists are working at.
Amy Ballantyne 12JMP
On Thursday 20th March, 31 Triple Science students made their way to Didcot train station to catch the 8:55am train to Oxford, to visit Oxford University's Department of Physics...
"As we arrived at the Department of Physics, we were shown the way to our seats in the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, on the way passing some impressive scientific apparatus. As we walked in to the lecture theatre, music was playing and the students performing the show were just setting up the last few pieces of equipment. We had time to take a few 'selfies' before - Show Time! Throughout the show, special effects and fantastic scientific models led us through the 'whys' 'whats' and 'hows' of the fundamental particles of life. We learnt about the structure of the atom, the charges on different particles and how all these were discovered. The show was comical, full of science and really engaging. After the finale (which involved a human model of particles in an accelerator and the formation of a Higg's Boson particle), we gave a huge round of applause, thanked the students for a great show and made our way back to the train station ready for our last lessons of the day!"
The students were impeccably behaved and learnt a great deal of fundamental science. As staff, we were proud to have them representing Didcot Girls' School.
The Big Bang Science Fair 2014
Eighty-five very excited Year 8 students travelled to the NEC Birmingham on March 14th to experience the biggest single celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the UK: the Big Bang Science Fair. The girls made the most of the vast range of activities, shows and exhibits on offer, from the Science of Dr Who to studying optical illusions; Gastronaut Extreme to engineering with white chocolate; how fireworks are made to making your own slime.
As well as enjoying "all the fun of the fair" the girls learned of the wealth of exciting opportunities available to young people through STEM subjects, both in education and beyond into the world of work. Perhaps some will be inspired to become the scientists and engineers we need to address the challenges of the future.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – 18th March 2014
On March 18th a group of current and future GCSE Music students met up at Didcot train station to go to the Hexagon in Reading to hear a concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO).
After taking the train to Reading and then a short walk we arrived at the Hexagon. Our seats were right above the orchestra in the Balcony. The performance, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, began with Brahms’ Tragic Overture, which was a large orchestral piece that we all loved. The next piece was Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3; a piece that is known to be extremely difficult to play. This Concerto was played by John Lill. The speed and accuracy of his playing mesmerised us especially since he had no music in front of him and it was a very long piece. Even more amazing is that John Lill is 70 this year!
After the interval, a pot of ice cream and a tragic spider incident the performance continued. The final piece that was played by the whole Orchestra was Dvorák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major, with its many tricky solos from the flute and piano. This piece is incredibly difficult but sounded effortless. After the amazing performance and yet another even more tragic spider incident we left for the train station to make our way home at 11pm. Although we came into school like zombies the next day due to the late night, we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would love to do it all again but maybe without the spider joining us!
The next trip will be on the 6th June to hear the RPO performing with the guitarist John Williams. It is well worth attending a live performance.
Laurel Platt 9SJG
Year 10 RE Day January 2014
Year 10 spent a memorable day as 'Religious Detectives' accomplishing numerous missions as they visited different places of religious worship in Oxford and Reading on Thursday 30th January. The theme for the day was on World Religions where our pupils immersed themselves in the religious life of the 6 'big' religions for a morning. Each one of the 6 groups visited a different place of worship for a tour and talk, this included a Mosque, Vihara, Gurdwara, Cathedral, Temple and a Synagogue. In the afternoon it was back to base to produce an exhibition of their learning. A great day for Year 10 who did themselves proud and fedback that it was: 'Awesome', 'Inspiring', Interesting' and that 'I had fun and learnt a lot'
Russell Group go to Brasenose College
On the 22nd of January this year 35 of the Russell group students had a trip to visit the Oxford University College of Brasenose to have a preview of what life in Oxford would have in store for them should they choose to apply to this University. I think that it will prove to be a very useful experience when we will potentially be making a hard decision of what university to chose and aided us in possibly swaying our indecision over weather Oxford would be the place for us or not.
The trip was primarily useful due to the fact that it disproved many deterring misconceptions about Oxford University as a place where people live in dusty libraries mulling over large Shakespearian texts all in robes and the main thought of it being an institution for elitists only. The truth of it is that actually the general idea they are advised to follow is “8 hours work, eight hours sleep and eight hours play… not weekend inclusive” this can go to show how Oxford is actually a more relaxed environment with good work ethic but also with a high standard of relaxing and taking part in extra curricular activities. Another surprising statistic that we learned was the fact that 70% of Oxford students are actually from state school and so therefore outnumber the people from private school backgrounds by over double.
Oxford Courts – January 2014
Citizenship pupils saw the Criminal Justice System close up and in action recently during a visit which took in both the Magistrates and Crown Court. We spent a fascinating morning sitting in on actual court cases and observing Magistrates, Judges, Jurys and Lawyers going about their daily basis. It was fascinating to watch the workings of a court and of course to discover the misdemeanour (or 'alleged' misdemeanours) that some people had been getting up to. It was also very thought provoking to realise how much damage drink and drugs do in our society and in relationships, as many cases were linked to them. All in all though, it was a memorable day.
A Thrilling Treat at the Theatre
A group of 48 GCSE Drama pupils enjoyed being frightened, on Tuesday 28th January at a matinee performance of ‘The Woman in Black’ at London’s Fortune Theatre. The girls loved this super-scary show, which is an exercise in pure gothic creepiness that saw them all hanging onto the edge of their seats and jumping at the slightest sound, which was made in the small venue.
‘The Woman in Black’ combines the power and intensity of live theatre with a cinematic quality inspired by the world of film noir. It gives audiences an unremitting drama as they are transported into a terrifying and ghostly world.
‘The Woman in Black’ is now celebrating 25 years in the West End. Over 7 million people have lived to tell the tale of one of the most exciting, gripping and successful theatre events ever staged.
Many thanks to Mrs. Luke and Mrs. Hardiman for their support on another successful and enjoyable drama experience.
Chemistry & Art Workshop: 14th January 2014
On 14th January seven students from year 9 experienced an interdisciplinary day at Oxford University, learning about the insoluble coloured substances used to make paints: pigments.
The day began at the Ashmolean Museum where the girls examined some Renaissance paintings and learned about the various natural substances that were used to make paints at that time. Next the girls went to the Ruskin School of Art, to try preparing their own egg tempera paints using the same techniques as the Renaissance painters, but starting with both natural and synthetic pigments.
The group sampled lunch at Balliol College, in a dining hall which reminded some of Hogwarts. In the afternoon they headed to the Chemistry department where they used chemical reactions to make two different coloured pigments and then used these to prepare samples of paint.
Everyone enjoyed their day in Oxford, learning about chemistry, history, art and the connections between them as well as finding out more about Oxford University. Perhaps some of the group might study there themselves in the future.
A Day at Houses of Parliament – January 2014
Hot on the heels of the recent Yr 10 trip, our Yr 11 Citizenship pupils did us proud at the Houses of Parliament. Participating on a tour and in a workshop we got to see a busy day in Parliament as our trip was on a Wednesday, which is Prime Minister's Questions Day. Ed Miliband walked past us and we found ourselves next to Eric Pickles, Andy Durnham and Sir Menzies Campbell at different points in our tour. Sitting later in the Houses of Lords public gallery to observe a debate we even saw Baroness Floella Benjamin who some of you older readers may remember from your childhood, presenting children television shows. We also spent time in the historic Westminster Hall hearing about trials of the past involving William Wallace and Guy Faulkes. It was another memorable and fascinating day at the heart of our democracy which we saw very much in action.
Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” – January 2014
Last Tuesday evening the AS and A2 dance students went to London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre to watch Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan lake’, a contemporary dance adaptation of the classic ballet. Some students were surprised to see a chorus of male dancers in feathered hareem pants performing quirky bird like movements, in contrast to the traditional graceful female ballerinas. Hopefully this experience will give students insight into viewing the piece live when they come to write about it for their theory paper. Despite a late return all students were good company as ever and back in school dancing away in full force the next day!
Year 7 watch “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”
It’s been winter in Narnia for ever so long. Always winter and never Christmas, can you imagine?
On Wednesday 18th December 2014, nearly all of year 7 entered the magical land of Narnia for Creation Theatre Company’s production of The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe. We travelled by coach to the North Wall Arts Centre in Oxford and filled the auditorium with our very excited year 7s. The magic of Narnia was felt by all and Aslan’s arrival wowed the audience. In particular, the girls enjoyed the live music and impressive set design.
Miss Roberts would like to congratulate the year group for representing the school in such an impressive manner.
Top of the Bench
Well done to the team of four students who represented DGS in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench Competition, held on December 12thin the Physical Chemistry Laboratory of Oxford University. The teams were challenged to design a device that would act as a timer to turn on a light after at least a five-minute delay, using only a strip of magnesium, a bulb, some wire, batteries and a selection of items that could be found in a supermarket, including vinegar and lemons. The DGS team of Ellie McRitchie, Robyn O’Neill, Chloe Tucker and Hannah Young built an ingenious device using the principle of electrolysis. Their timer had a consistent 20 minute delay, but unfortunately they were not able to start it until 10 minutes before judging, which meant that their light came on 10 minutes after the appointed time.
However, most teams were unable to complete the challenge by producing a working delay-switch and so the team were delighted to be awarded third place in a very tough competition. Well done girls!
Can Machines Think?
Nineteen triple science students from year 9 went to Oxford University on 11th December to find out more about this thought provoking question. They enjoyed a fascinating lecture from Professor Peter Millican which explored what we mean by intelligence, the philosophy of computer science and included Lin Zimba up on stage in front of hundreds of students asking questions to three mystery individuals to see if they were human.
The girls then took part in hands-on workshops in either the physics or computing science departments, where they had the opportunity to try some amazing activities with binary code, liquid nitrogen and magnetic levitation.
All the students who took part were enthusiastic participants throughout and were commended on their excellent attitude and behaviour by Professor Millican.
Dr Nickerson and Mrs Norton
Friday 6th December – Maths Alive
On Friday 6th 25 students from Yr 9 and 10 travelled to the Institute of Education in London for a day of talks about Maths. We began with a talk from Simon Singh, author of “Fermat’s Last Theorem” and “The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets”. Did you know the writers of the Simpsons are brilliant Mathematicians? They regularly sneak bits of brilliant Maths and amazing numbers into the episodes of the Simpsons and Fututrama. This was followed by Paul Sloane who encouraged us to think laterally to solve problems and caught a few of us out! Then Dr Emma McCoy showed us some amazing patterns in Pascal’s Triangle and how it is regularly used to solve problems with probability. Dr James Grime talked about code breaking, how it was used during the second world war with an enigma machine and how it we all use it now when sending a text or buying things online. Finally Dr Calvin Smith explained the maths of life and death, ending with a particularly worrying prediction of what would happen during a zombie apocalypse! A very enjoyable day was had by all.
Tuesday 3rd December – Maths Inspiration
On Tuesday 3rd 12 students from Yr 11 and 12 travelled to Reading to listen to speakers talk about the wider ranges and sometimes unexpected uses of Maths. For example, did you know a wheel doesn’t need to be circular for you to travel comfortably without bumping up and down in your car? Or that at the correct frequency a pendulum could stand vertically upwards unaided? Challenging topics can be proved with pizza? Or that musical chords and melodies are all mathematical sequences?! This is a fantastic trip every year which sparks the imagination of all present. Ever wondered about the creation of society? Have a look at John Conway’s Game of Life, an entertaining computer game which makes you wonder… who set the rules we live by?!
On Saturday 30th November we were invited to sing at Gift-Fest a craft fair in Didcot Civic Hall raising money for various charities. Members of the Year 7 and 8 choirs gave up their Saturday morning to perform festive tunes from O Little Town of Bethlehem to Frosty the Snowman as well as a new song written by our Head of Music, Mr Blyth.
The performance was very encouraging, for some of them the first time they had performed in public and the girls did themselves proud. A positive start as we go into a busy period for the choir. Everyone is invited to our annual Christmas Concert on 17th December at 7pm in Cockcroft Hall.
Sweeney Todd Visit
On the 14th November a group of girls from Years 9-12 attended Oxford Playhouse to see an amazing version of ‘Sweeney Todd’. It was a fabulous production with fantastic singing from the thirty five strong chorus and soloists: Oxford Operatic Society tackled the Sondheim score with professionalism and musical skill.
Sweeney Todd is a tale of a murderous barber and his accomplice, Mrs Lovett the pie maker. Heart broken Mr Todd returns to London having been in exile in Australia. Hoping to rejoin his family Todd is told that his wife has committed suicide and his daughter has been adopted by the judge who caused him so much pain. Feeling desolate, he meets Mrs Lovett, who returns his barber’s razor, takes him in and fuels his desire for revenge. After being blackmailed, Todd kills his blackmailer and Mrs Lovett puts the body in her pies. This leads to him evaluating and killing customers before murdering Judge Turpin and accidentally killing the Bird Lady - who turns out to be his wife.
The journey home on the train was also a highlight of the evening with much singing of various show tunes - which Mr Blyth joined in with as well!
Sophie Curtis and Robyn Darby
Lest We Forget
Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November, is the day assigned every year to remember all those who have given their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoy today. Since the end of World War 1 people right across the Commonwealth take the opportunity to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by all of our brave Service men and women.
It was very humbling to see so many people from the Didcot Girls' School community paying their respects and giving thanks to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, in giving their lives, so that we can enjoy ours. Victoria Birch, Elinor Jones, Sarah Paley, Abbie Nosworthy, Amy Hollister, Ciara Westhead, Becci Humphries and Ella Walker accompanied Mr Botwe and Mr Fahey to lay a wreath in remembrance at the local Didcot service. It was a poignant and moving parade and one we value being able to take part in annually, representing the wider school community of Didcot Girls School.
DGS in China!
This October fourteen Didcot Girls’ School Mandarin GCSE and A Level students were able to take part in a trip of a lifetime to China. As Mandarin is increasing in popularity as a GCSE option at Didcot Girls’ School, more and more students are also able to take this chance to experience the culture of the country and interact with Chinese people in their own language.
The girls travelled first to Beijing, the heart and capital of China, in which they were able to experience the rich culture the city possesses. Diving deep into the country’s past, we visited cultural and historical landmarks such as the Forbidden City, where we were able to appreciate the elegant, regal designs of Chinese architecture along with the beautiful Imperial Gardens. The girls’ primary aim during the trip was to practise their Chinese; not a problem however, as opportunities to mix with the local population occurred very frequently due to the numerous amounts of people who stopped to ask for photos! The girls also visited sites such as Jin Shang Park, along with the infamous Tiananmen Square, where they had the privilege of watching the raising of the flag at dawn over the populous square. People congregated in crowds to proudly watch the nation’s flag being raised; however, by the end of the ceremony the flag had very little attention as the girls, yet again became a focus of interest to the Chinese people, thus leading to more pictures being taken! The girls also had the opportunity to appreciate some of the modern architecture that China offers, as they visited the site of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube, in which China invested the equivalent of $423million.
The diversity and contrast of old and new in Beijing was made apparent as the girls could take a step right out of their hostel and be welcomed into the modern life of China’s capital city, or take a step left in which they would be plunged into the depths of Chinese history. In moments, they were in the Hu Tong alleyways, which offered traditional shops, houses and food (which the girls didn’t hesitate to try, causing them to consume some odd things, including scorpions!) However, the way in which to experience China’s past and present simultaneously is to visit the Great Wall of China, something the girls were lucky enough to experience. Leaving the hustle of the city, we travelled to a secluded, privately owned area of the Wall which only Dragon Trip groups can visit. This sheltered, untouched area of the wall allowed the girls to appreciate China’s history, culture and its landscape; we visited the Wall at sunset and then at sunrise the following morning, an unforgettable experience.
We also experienced a day in the life of a Chinese student at Beijing’s Number 14 Middle School. This was fascinating due to the contrast in school life between English and Chinese students; the girls were able to sit in a couple of classes and also interact with the other students at break and lunch time. Not only was this an opportunity to see how lessons were different in China, but the girls also were able to practise their Chinese with students their age.
Next, we visited the old, traditional city of Xi’an. Once in Xi’an we took part in many activities such as riding tandem bikes along the City Walls, this begun as a very wobbly experience but after we found our balance we were able to enjoy the beautiful city view. We were also able to visit the historic Terracotta Warriors, it was extremely interesting to see such a well known attraction in the flesh and learn a little about Chinese history. After Xi’an we caught the night train back to Beijing in order to, sadly, fly back home. All of the girls enjoyed the night train, even if it was scary sleeping in the top bunk with two others below you! All in all the trip was ahuge success, the students were able to submerge themselves into a culture almost completely new, converse with native Chinese speakers and have an experience of a life time!
Miss Marsh, Mrs Dong and the DGS Chinese group
Year 10 Ulysses Group: News Engagement Project
Friday 8th November marked the start of an exciting project for 22 members of the year 10 Ulysses Group. After school, Bhaveet Radia and Marinella Capriati from Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford joined us to run a challenging project based around exploring the news and media in modern society. Having been charged with thinking about the very purpose of education, the girls worked creatively in groups to come up with story ideas for ‘The Daily Didcot’ newspaper. They were left with cameras to help them explore their stories in depth before the next session. Over the next three sessions, the girls will be working collaboratively before the project concludes with a presentation at Lady Margaret Hall itself. A challenging and prestigious project, we look forward to seeing what they come up with before Christmas!
Mrs. Ashton, Leader of Pedagogy
Our Next Generation of Leaders?
Citizenship pupils got a taste of power and democracy in action in November. 30 pupils visited the Houses of Parliament to learn more about how our country is run. Pupils had a fascinating tour of the home of our democracy visiting both the House of Commons and Lords, where they got to meet current Lords and MPs. The tour was followed by an interactive workshop on ‘Making Laws’, then, after lunch in the famous, but drafty, Westminster Hall we witnessed the Speakers procession with John Bercow MP (this signals the opening of a parliamentary session for the day). Before leaving we had time for a quick visit to the Public Gallery to sit in on an interesting debate led by Schools Minister David Laws on the controversial proposal for free school meals for all Key Stage 1 pupils. A short walk back to the coach took us past the amiable Lembit Opik who agreed to a quick photo with our group (you may know him for being a high profile ex-MP or for being in ‘I’m a Celebrity!’) and then before we knew it we were heading back to Didcot after a fascinating and unforgettable day.
On 16 October 2013, the Computing and ICT Department took twelve upper and lower sixth form students to the London Science Museum. We went with a focus on the importance of Alan Turing and how his advanced computational thinking has affected the development of today's computers.
This was a hardy group of technologists, who were not fazed by the hustle and bustle of rush hour London and we arrived at the Museum with wide-eyed expectation. The Turing exhibition provided information on the life and times of Alan Turing, including an aircraft bombing mechanical computer and even his autopsy report.
Whilst examining the exhibits, students were able to appreciate the advancement of technology since the 1940s and were amazed at how Turing’s ideas are still relevant today.
After a hearty lunch at KFC (student choice!) and a good look around the M&M store in Piccadilly, we headed back to the Museum to investigate the Computer exhibition where we saw how immense early computers were, allowing us to compare them with today's technology processing power.
We then had time to investigate other areas of interest such as medicine and yet technology still raised its digital head! We came to the conclusion that, like it or not, technology has made a large impact on our lives! So thank you Mr Turing, it is sad that he died so young (aged 41) and did not live to see how special he actually was.
We arrived back at Didcot at 7.30pm and although we were weary, we were a happy band of technologists who did D6 proud! Hopefully we have the next Turing in our midst - who knows?
Year 11, 12 and 13 Art students took advantage of excellent weather to draw and take part in adventure activities in Devon when they visited Yenworthy Lodge. Find out more about their visit by clicking here.
Year 10 GCSE Geography students combined fieldwork with eating ice creams when they visited the south coast in July. Read more by clicking here.
GCSE History students entered into the spirit of this visit with great enthusiasm when we visited the Galleries of Justice to find out more about the ways crime and punishment used to be handled. For more information please click here.
Salters' Festival of Chemistry - June 2013
Four girls represented DGS at the Salters' Festival of Chemistry in Oxford by participating in challenges and experiments related to chemistry. For further information please click here.
Salamanca - May 2013
A group of year 9 and 10 students spent their half term holiday in sunny Salamanca. The girls stayed with host families and spent their days with DGS staff studying Spanish, visiting local places of interest, learning flamenco dancing and having a go at Spanish cookery. To find out more about their visit please click here.
A group of 80 girls from year 8 enjoyed a weekend on the south coast near Weymouth in glorious sunshine. Adventure activities included "The Big Swing" and Zip Wire. The girls also worked on their IT skills including films and editing. To find out more please follow this link.
In February half term 20 girls from year 11 went on a fantastic trip to Morocco where they learnt about the different culture, sampled traditional food, rode camels, shopped in local markets and much more. To fin out more please click here http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/242/magical-morocco
Girls from Year 7 represented the school at this event working in teams and enjoying a day full of activities. For more information please click here.
Year 11 watch "Matilda the Musical" December 2012
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s world premiere production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical captured the imagination of our Year 10 and 11 students yesterday evening during a packed performance at London’s Cambridge Theatre in Covent Garden. For more information please follow this link to our news page:
International Links with Germany December 2012
Ten girls from year 9 hosted our German visitors around Oxford on a tour of the Caslte and Harry Potter tour of the city. For more information please follow the link below to our news page: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/220/international-links-strengthened
Changsha and Beijing October & November 2012
At the end of October Miss Marsh and 10 students from Yr 9 and 10 spent two weeks in China. They visited Changsha and Beijing whilst experiencing a variety of linguistic and cultural activities. It was an immensely rewarding adventure for all.
Betsy Brind 9SPP writes.......On Monday 22nd October we left for a trip of a lifetime…China! We were very excited and not the least bit tired even though we woke up at 2:15am. After a long journey to Changsha our first reaction was “ Wow! This is a very different scenery to the UK!” But while we were there it just got better and better. By the end of the trip we did not want to go home. We think the best bit of the trip was being able to get a feel for how other people live. I would most definitely recommend this trip.
Ghost Trail in Oxford October 2012
Intrepid year 10s and 11s went on a ghost trail in Oxford to learn about the city's history...... for more information please follow this link to our news page: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/208/ghost-trail-terrifies-our-teens
Rambert Dance in London October 2012
On Thursday 18th October, Dance students from Years 9-13 visited London to see Rambert, the national company for contemporary dance, renowned as being one of the most distinctive and the most creative companies working in Britain today.
Founded by Marie Rambert in 1926, the Company has sustained her pioneering commitment to choreography and developing dancers as artists, leading the way for over 85 years. The vision of this energetic Polish woman ensured that dance as an artform took root and blossomed in this country, and Rambert’s influence now extends across the world.
Bold, risk-taking, agile and beautiful, the dancers combined rigorous technique and artistry with an extraordinary ability to challenge and entertain – a real inspiration to our dancers, who picked up lots of tips for their own techniques and choreography. The Company is also renowned for its use of live music and it is the only UK-based contemporary dance company always to tour with an orchestra.
Blood Brothers in Milton Keynes October 2012
Year 10 GCSE Drama students went to Milton Keyens for a brilliant production of one of their set texts "Blood Brothers". To read more please follow the link below: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/202/blood-brothers-musical-visit
Complex Numbers Maths Visit September 2012
On Friday 21st September nine Yr 12 Further Maths students visited Oxford Spires Academy to take part in an afternoon of Complex Numbers. During the afternoon, students were taught about the imaginary number i (or j if you are an engineer) where it arises and how to use it. We were all able to take part in challenges using the new skills we had acquired. Our students are now able to solve any kind of quadratic equation, particularly equations that were previously unsolvable, plot imaginary numbers on Argand diagrams and find the argument of z. We had a lovely, if rather mind blowing, afternoon and some very nice doughnuts!
Paralympics September 2012
In September four groups from DGS visited the Paralympics in London - a once in a lifetime opportunity for many - read Jessica Cooke's account of her visit at: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/195/dgs-visits-the-paralympics
Festival of Chemistry June 2012
Year 8 ICT residential to PGL Centre at Osmington Bay June 2012
On Friday 1st June, 52 Year 8 pupils started their half term holiday by setting off on their annual residential visit to Osmington Bay, near Weymouth, to learn how technology and physical education can go hand in hand! Find out more at: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/169/year-8-ictpe-residential-osmington-bay
French Chateau April 2012
On Friday 26th April 2012 81 year 7s travelled to France, destination the small French town of Rue to stay in a beutiful converted French Chateau. The sun shone on the white cliffs of Dover as we left England and on the Normandy beaches as we arrived in France. The weekend's programme included making croissant and pain au chocolat, visiting a snail farm where we learnt all about looking after these delightful creatures. Many girls were brave and let a snail nestle in their hand. before tasting delicacies such as snail jam and snail pâté. We then visited a goat farm and learnt all about making goat's cheese and had the chance to try some.One morning was spent in the Battlefields on the Somme brigning to life the hash reality of WW1, followed by a visit to a cave system used from Medieval times. Evening activities included treasure hunts and team games. A wonderful time was had by all!
Women in Computer Science March 2012
Tracking badgers, making autonomous helicopters, the philosophy of robots, improving language translation and hiding secret informatio in pictures were some of the fascinating topics covered at the Women in Computer Science Day on Wednesday 21st March. Read more at: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/145/women-in-computer-science
Didcot Sixth Form students experience "MUNGA"! March 2012
The Crowstarver February 2012
Tuesday 28th February 2012 saw Miss Robertson, Miss Davis and Miss Woods take pupils from years 9-13 to visit the Oxford Playhouse to watch the gripping and moving story, The Crowstarver, set in a close-knit rural community in the early days of the Second World War. Read more at: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/134/the-crowstarver-conjures-up-compassion-for-students
German Christmas Markets December 2011
Twenty nine Didcot girls from Years 8-11 had a busy four days making new friends with pupils from our Partner School Feodor-Lynen-Gymnasium in Planegg. Frau Gabi Munz, Head of English at FLG, and all the pupils and teachers made us feel very welcome at the school.
For more information please follow this link to our News Page: http://www.didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk/86/news/article/112/munich-christmas-market-trip-1st-to-4th-december-2011
Paris Homestay 6th-11th March 2011
GCSE Geography Field Trip to Studland Bay and Swanage - September 2010
Black Country Museum – Year 7 - July 2010
ICT Residential @ PGL – June 2010
- to inspire students and build their independence in the use of ICT
- to give students the chance to link practical activities back to ICT work in the classroom
- to prepare students for OCR Nationals course in year 9
- to enable pupils to build good working relationships and develop friendships
Madrid - June 2010
Year 9 History to the Galleries of Justice - March 2010