Our student artists have their work on show at the city’s John Lewis store in our second exhibition at the retail giant. The artwork was produced by Year 11 students in their mock exams, in preparation for the real thing this year. The students were given the broad theme of Architectural Structures, and many of them opted to find inspiration from historic York. The artwork is upstairs in the café on the rear wall – please do pop in to have a look if you have the chance!
Year 11 student, Saffron Wigmore, has been awarded the Services as a Young Volunteer Award at the Lord Mayor of York Shine Awards 2019. This is a truly amazing achievement as she also won the award in 2016. Saffron volunteers for Mind and The Island, working with young people aged 7-14 engaging in activities which aim to build confidence. Saffron has previously been supported by The Island herself and this encouraged her to apply in order to pay back for what she had been given. Saffron said the volunteering helps her to build her own confidence, as well as helping others, and is also great for her CV. When she has finished her GCSEs, Saffron is hoping to go on to York College to study Engineering with an aspiration to join the Navy.
In January, the whole school came off timetable for the day to take part in one of our regular Extended Learning Days (ELDs).
We organise ELDs throughout the academic year to enrich our students’ experiences and each day is given over to learning with a single theme. At this month’s ELD our students focused on crime and justice, with each year group taking on different activities.
Year 7 students had a Forensic Day taking on the role of Investigating Officers at a Crime Scene. To begin with they had to analyse witness and suspect statements. They were then taken to the scene of the crime where they had to identify what was and wasn’t evidence and make a sketch of the scene.
Students also had the opportunity to do fingerprint, footwear and fibre comparisons on all suspects as well as learning how to recover fingerprints. They also analysed and compared DNA reports linking blood from the victim to the weapon.
The Year 7s then had to analyse all of the information they had been given to work out who had committed the crime, create an evidence board and present this evidence in court at the end of the day.
Students in Year 8 looked at how the law and punishment of crime has changed over the past 100 years. They followed a young person through the Youth Justice System looking at what happens when a young person commits a crime and assessed the consequences of the offence on the victim and the offender. They also looked at the Crown Prosecution Service’s role in bringing a crime to court.
They then went on to look at a specific case and decided whether there was enough evidence to take it to court. Students were given the opportunity to be a judge, working through an interactive case looking at the aggravating and mitigating circumstances that are considered when sentencing. They were asked to decide a sentence for a particular crime and found out whether they were correct. Finally, all students took part in a role play set in a Magistrates Court to show how court proceedings would occur.
Year 9 addressed how laws were made. They began by identifying whether some of our more extreme laws were true or false and discussed why these laws were established in the first place, or where the myth had come from. They then worked through debating a new law that they had decided upon in their lesson, looked at the stages the bill went through in Parliament and saw short clips of bills being debated. They also looked at how some of our MPs behave when in the debating chamber and how the voting process in the House of Commons works.
Students also spent time with PC Sarah-Jayne Elliot who explained the arrest procedure to them, why suspects are read their rights and what these mean and what happens when you get to the police station. James Alderson who is a serving firefighter also came in to talk to the students about the dangers and consequences of arson and hoax calls. In the afternoon session, students learnt the difference between a barrister and a solicitor and then took part in a Crown Court mock trial focusing on the consequences of sharing prescribed medicine with others.
The Year 10 students took part in a careers event, where they had the opportunity to consider their strengths and areas for development and as well as the different careers and pathways on offer. Students wrote their own CVs and completed an in-depth questionnaire about themselves to identify the careers that were most suitable. Students said how useful it was because they had no idea of the thousands of different job roles and careers that exist. A student might think they are interested in construction or engineering but has no idea of the thousands of possibilities within that field.
The day was kicked off by a speaker, Stuart Myers, who spoke about his life experience. Stuart, 37, was born without arms. He talked about the journey he has experienced in both his personal life and professional career. He explained how he has defied the odds and progressed from being an office trainee to a local government manager, as well as having other roles, including a charity trustee, school governor and judicial office holder.
The students were inspired by his talk and he invited questions from the Year 10 audience, who were really challenged to think about their own strengths and how they deal with obstacles in their own lives.
As many of you will know, we have spoken to all students who cycle to school this week to deliver important messages about road safety. This is always important but we have been particularly concerned recently by a number of reports from members of the public regarding dangerous behaviour of Millthorpe students when riding to and from school. Below is a link to the letter that was handed to students who cycle to school.
It may be helpful to clarify some of the points raised in the letter: firstly, riding two abreast is sometimes advised for safety reasons; however, in the incident which was reported to us, students were clearly riding alongside one another in order to continue their conversations rather than for safety. Riding three or more abreast is not legal under the Highway Code. Similarly, whilst riding in bus lanes may be allowed where indicated by signage, our concerns relate to groups of cyclists making it difficult for buses to pass safely and not paying due attention to their impact on buses and other road users.
Spring Concert Tuesday 19 February at 7pm
Please come along to see amazing performances by the Jazz Band, Junior Band, Glee Club, Ukulele Club, Flute Choir, String Group and Rock Band as well as soloists and dancers. The cream of Millthorpe’s musical talent packed into one unforgettable evening. Tickets £3 adults, £2 children/concessions, available on the door.
Women’s FA Cup Final Tickets Saturday 4 May
There are still 5 tickets left for what will no doubt be a truly memorable experience, priced at just £30 per person. See the attached letter for more information.
Year 10 Work Experience
Please remember that the deadline for completed paperwork is next Friday 22 February.
Mental Health Awareness Day Update
The final total of money raised was an incredible £1024.88. A big thank you to everyone who contributed.
A family-friendly forest school based at Millthorpe School in York has bagged two awards at this year’s Little Viking Awards.
Wild Things Family Forest School walked away with awards for Best Active Class and Best Place for Hot Chocolate.
Wild Things runs regular sessions for children aged between 18 months and four years and their parent/carer, within a private wooded area in the grounds of Millthorpe School. During the sessions there are lots of activities to stimulate independent play and allow children’s natural curiosity to develop, for example, binoculars, magnifying glasses, mud kitchen, mud painting, and den building. At the end of each session everyone gets a hot chocolate with marshmallows toasted on an open fire – weather permitting!
Staff and students at Millthorpe School have worked closely with Wild Things owner, Emma Hills, over the last year. Students studying Child Development have undertaken work placements and child studies for their final coursework assessments and the Millthorpe team has also enabled Wild Things to develop the wooded area to suit their requirements, providing the best possible setting in which to deliver their forest school sessions.
Emma said “I’m thrilled with the awards! I want to thank everyone at Millthorpe for giving me the opportunity to use the outdoor space at the school. I love it in the wooded area with the pond and allotment space, as do the children and the parents who come along to Wild Things. I really appreciate the freedom they’ve given me to develop the area into a great space for children to play and learn.”
The Forest School takes place on the school grounds by the pond at Millthorpe every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Further information can be found at
Millthorpe Remembers the First World War
It was during the summer holiday of 2014 that I began to think of ways Millthorpe could remember the centenary of the First World War. I wanted a project that connected students to the stories of real individuals and that was ongoing throughout the duration of the four year centenary. After much thought, I decided to create three fictional characters, based on real life stories from the oral testimonies of those who lived through this period. Each Millthorpe house had a character to follow and would receive termly updates on the character’s experiences. Each year I also gave the whole school assemblies updating them on where the major fighting was taken place 100 years ago.
Here are the characters I created. Remember, there are strands of truth in all their stories, but they are fictional creations.
The first character I created was 15 year old Tommy. Like many boys he was signed up, despite being underage. Tommy immediately went to training camps, after spending a few weeks camping on the Knavesmire. Here is an extract from his account:
We went to Castlegate, the Headquarters of the Yorkshire Hassars to join up. They asked me my date of birth and like an idiot I told them the truth. The recruiting officer frowned and told me “You’re 15 and a half today but you will need to be 18 tomorrow. Walk around and have a few more birthdays son.” I didn’t know what he meant at first but I came back the next day. The same recruiting officer asked me my age and I replied 18. He looked at me sharply with the ghost of a smile and I was in.
In September 1915 Tommy saw the first (unsuccessful) use of gas by the British.
The officer commanding the gas company kept testing the wind direction and shaking his head. The order to release the gas on the German trench was given. The officer at first refused but the order came again. As he predicted the gas rolled back onto our own infantry troops. I cannot tell you what the gas was like. It smelt sweet at first and then we realised. We only had the most basic helmets, great white canvas things that were soaked in chemicals. Men who had breathed in gas would claw to try to take them off. Some who had been in the lower parts of the trench got it really bad and they became senseless. I was told that in the Southern sector it worked well and the German lines were in confusion.
Tommy survived the Battle of the Somme and Ypres. In 1918 he sustained a small cut to his hand.
I am in a field hospital waiting to be moved back to Blighty. After all these years dodging bullets and shrapnel and it is a small scratch that finishes me! I have blood poisoning from a cut in my hand. They are giving me tetanus injections every few hours but the doctor thinks I will lose my arm. Still despite how hot and ill I feel I am still glad to be in a clean bed. I crawled in without even taking my boots off. The nurse was furious!
This was Tommy’s last report. The infection that resulted caused blood poisoning and Tommy died on the ambulance train on the way home. I felt very conflicted about ‘killing Tommy’. More men survived the war than died and yet I wanted to make the point that it might not be an enormous explosion that killed soldiers – it could be something as simple as some muddy barbed wire.
It was very important to me to have a woman represented in the project and I based my story on the Leeds munition workers. My character was named Ada and she lived in Burton Stone Lane. She was married with children. Her first entry reported the requisitioning of horses that took place in York at the start of the war.
There is panic buying and the food prices have already shot up. They are desperate for horses and are using the Barbican as a big stabling area. They were stopping all the farmers on Blossom Street this morning and buying the horses from them then and there! Well the farmers were none too pleased – they didn’t get a good price and were stuck in York with a cart and no horse.
Ada quickly becomes involved in the war effort:
They are setting up a new munitions factory in Leeds and I am minded to go and register. Since the boys have gone I feel I would rather work than sit around the house and IMAGINE! My sister has agreed to keep an eye on the two girls for me.
Ada was quickly trained. Here is her report from Sept 1915:
You are speaking to a fully trained member of the Munitions Factory team of the Barnbow Munitions factory, Leeds. About a third of us are not Leeds locals. We had a month’s training and then we get on with it! There are three shifts: 6am-2pm, 2pm-10pm and 10pm-6am. The factory is never silent, churning out shells to kill the enemy. There are no easy jobs here but some are more dangerous than others, such as mixing up the TNT and ammonium nitrate to make a mixture that will explode. The rules are ever so strict. One girl was fined a week’s wages for forgetting to take a match from behind her ear. You would laugh if you could see me in my overalls. But I feel proud to be working for my country. I am also being paid more than I ever have (£3 a week). My boys are outraged that I earn more than them!
Work in the factory resulted in many physical side effects. Ada commented in Dec 1915:
The chemicals in the air turn your skin a bright yellow and dyes the front of our hair, the bit that sticks out of our caps, a vivid ginger. The doctors tell us to drink lots of milk to try to clear it from our systems but I am not convinced it works.
In March 1916 Ada’s story came to an abrupt end. 35 workers were killed in an explosion at the Barnbow Munitions factory on the 5th February. Ada was one of the workers killed.
The Barnbow munitions explosion was a real event that I wove into the semi-fictional narrative; the casualties bodies were returned to York and buried in York Cemetery. A memorial to the women was built after the war at Leeman Road.
Romans : William
Our final character was William. He was 17 when war broke out and already a member of the Officer Cadet Force. Prevented from joining up by his teacher, he was forced to wait until September 1915 to serve. William immediately became a Second Lieutenant but his experience in the trenches was not quite as he had imagined :
The 50 men in my command seem like a good bunch although some are not as respectful as I’d like. I had to discipline a soldier who was helping himself to a tin of bully beef. I got the sergeant to take his name then had him confined to camp.
In June 1916 William was part of the attack on the Somme.
As soon as I got out of the trench I saw a scene of carnage. My men were scattered everywhere, the metal triangles on their backs glinting in the sunlight. I stood up to lob a Mills bomb at a machine gun post and felt a terrific punch across my nose and saw an explosion of bright light then nothing. My wounds were so serious that I have been sent back to England. The shrapnel has left a huge wound across my nose and forehead and it looks as if my face is split into two. I can see how the nurses look at me, with a mixture of pity and disgust. When Mother saw me I could see her struggle not to look away.
William spent the rest of the war recovering from his injuries. He was lucky enough to be sent to a specialist unit at Sidcup where he was given pioneering plastic surgery to try to restore his face.
They will stretch some of the skin from my chest and roll it into a tube and join it to my face. It will mean staying in that position for several months but hopefully the skin will knit with my face and then can be cut free from my chest. I have seen the pictures and I am hopeful that this might be worth the pain and effort. The visit was helpful, it was good to see lots of chaps with faces as terrible as mine.
William’s operation was operation was successful, and he lived into his seventies, but he had to live with his scars for the rest of his life.
The assemblies of 2014-18 mirrored the events of 1914-18. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions! In 2016 I had to report the death of Ada. It felt the mood had changed and we removed the house branding from the characters – we were now all in it together. Mr. Baybutt (Head of Saxons) kept checking in: How’s Tommy doing? I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had already written Tommy’s fate in 1918. I remember Mr. Baybutt’s relief as Tommy made it through the Somme! William’s story was even harder to tell. I had to share the traumatic surgery he had to undergo and it was extremely hard-hitting at times. There were, however, also moments of relief. William’s face at 70 was restored, his features blurred by the softening effect of time.
Over the four years these characters have become very real to me. Our current Year 11 were in year 7 when the project started. I hope, like me they now have a very real sense of how long the war took to finish and the impact it had on the lives of York’s citizens.
Millthorpe School has joined a new project launching in York that will help give Christmas presents to care home residents who will be alone throughout the festive season.
The Silver Santa project asks people to donate shoeboxes full of gifts to Silver Santa who will distribute them to care homes in York including Amarna House. The project is being trialled in York before it is rolled out nationally by the charity Attend UK.
Organiser, Pauline Redman, said: “More than 30 percent of elderly individuals in care homes won’t have a visitor on Christmas day. We have had a lot of help from schools across the city including Millthorpe, Manor CE and Joseph Rowntree who are donating several shoeboxes. Several students are going into Amarna House on Christmas Day to spend time with residents.”
English teacher at Millthorpe School, Arielle Redman, said: “Our student council decided that this scheme would be a worthy cause. We spent a day preparing shoeboxes and the children can’t wait to see the difference it will make to the care home residents.”