World Book Day – Thursday 5 March

World Book Day is a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

The main aim of World Book Day, in the UK and Ireland, is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books. At Millthorpe we encourage this with a range of activities. Most notably, this year we are marking the event with a repeat of last year’s Big Read. Most students have been into the library over the last few weeks and chosen a book. At an unspecified time on Thursday 5 March, the bell will ring and everyone in school will stop what they are doing and take some time out to read. Last year it was a great success, with the school becoming almost silent for the time that everyone was reading.

Books 1

Thanks to the generosity of National Book Tokens Ltd, who provide book vouchers to more than 14 million children and young people, students at Millthorpe will also be given a book token which they can take to a local bookseller and exchange it for one of ten (exclusive, new and completely free) books. Or, if they’d rather, they can use it to get £1 off any book or audio book costing over £2.99 at a participating bookshop or book club (terms and conditions apply).

Alongside these two main features of the day, there will be other celebrations going on including quizzes, film and book trailer presentations, and many members of staff will be dressing up as book characters. We are also planning follow up work to really encourage students to read their books and become part of Millthorpe’s reading culture.

Books 2

The World Book Day website at is packed full of information and ideas to get young people reading and writing. For teens and young adults, this year there is on online festival for teen fiction fans. Taking place between 6–8pm on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March, WBD TeenFest boasts a stellar line-up of authors including Holly Smale, Marcus Sedgwick, Derek Landy, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Darren Shan, Malorie Blackman and Sally Green.

With a heady mix of live activity on Facebook, Twitter and Google Hangouts, along with author blogposts, playlists, video-based DIYs and publishing careers advice, WBD TeenFest will deliver a whole host of brilliant book-based content straight to screen. Young people will be able to interact with their favourite authors via the TeenFest social media channels or simply follow all the action from

Books 3

Coastal Scientist


Geography, Physics and Maths

Geophysical Sciences (Southampton University)

Sally’s job is to predict what will happen if sea levels rise.

“Trying to find out what would happen if the sea rises is such an important question.  You can’t build flood defences if you don’t know how high the waves are going to be.”

Sally’s work uses both geography, to understand the way coasts change and how people use the coastline, and physics, to understand what happens to waves as they head towards the coast.

Despite physics not being her strongest subject, she felt it was the right choice for her, “I really enjoyed geography at school, but I found physics explained things which geography didn’t; how sea levels rise, and then how that affects the coast, and ultimately the people who live there.”

Whilst studying, Sally had opportunities to undertake fieldwork. “I enjoyed doing fieldwork because I could see how the processes fit together. It made my research become more ‘alive’. Going to different coastlines across the country was great – not many people can go for beach walks and claim they are doing work!”

You can find more information about careers in physics by visiting

House of Lords Visit

To celebrate the launch of the Historical Association Quality Mark for schools we were very pleased to accept an invitation to the House of Lords on Monday 2 February. As you will remember, the History department was assessed as part of the pilot scheme in October and we are proud to be the first secondary state school in the country to qualify for the award. Mr Burton and I were accompanied by Holly Clarke and Freya Thomson from Year 10.


On arrival at the House of Lords, we had photos on the terrace and then an opportunity to mingle with a variety of influential guests. The girls were asked their opinion on the future of the new GCSE by the Head of the AQA History exam (who also apologised to them for the Controlled Assessment tasks!) They also chatted to Lord Guthrie about York. Douglas Hurd, Antonia Fraser, Al Murray and Baroness Shirley Williams were also among the guests.


We were then lucky enough to be invited for a whistle stop tour of the parliament buildings, ending with a chance to watch the final part of a Commons debate on lowering the voting age to 16 – very topical! At the end of the debate, we were bustled out the back entrance as the house was just about to divide and we made it back to Kings Cross, just in time to catch the last train home. What a busy Monday evening!

Mrs Lingard, Joint Head of History

Year 9 students meet a Holocaust survivor

As part of the Millthorpe Remembers Programme for Holocaust Memorial Day, the History department were invited to take a small number of Year 9 students to meet a Holocaust survivor and to watch the film ‘The Power of Good’.

Edith Jayne is a Holocaust survivor who spoke to our students about her family’s experience of fleeing from the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis. Her father was an Austrian Jewish doctor, working for the Austrian National Health Service and her mother was an Austrian Catholic.

One of the things that struck us is that initially, as the Nazi persecutions spread to Austria, her father was not worried. He believed that he was a ‘good Jew’ and that Hitler would not persecute them. Both of her parents saw their identity as Austrian first and religious persuasions came second. The family were surprised therefore, that the Nazis did not differentiate between ‘good or bad’ Jews and persecuted them all.

When Hitler annexed Austria on 11 March 1938, the family were able to secure a passage to Portugal. Luckily for her family, Edith’s father’s connections as a doctor meant that there were several Nazis that were prepared to help him and his family get out of the country. They had to pay a bribe for this. But it showed that some people in Germany were willing to help Jewish people to escape. Students were struck by how hard it was for people to escape and that if you didn’t have money you would be stuck under Nazi control and all that followed.

Edith Jayne showed lots of photos for her childhood. She recalled that she is wearing the same dress in most of them, which she came to hate. She explained that the reason for this is that when Jewish people left Germany and Austria, they were not allowed to take any money out of the country. So her mother had bought the same two dresses in every available size, so that they had clothes to wear as they grew up. Similarly in the film ‘the Power of Good’, children rescued by Nicholas Winter talked of how parents, who never saw their children again, had their children’s normal fillings replaced by gold fillings, so that they would have some wealth in their new country.


Edith Jayne today and as a child in one of the two dresses bought by her mother.

Edith’s family lived in Portugal until 1941, when fearing that Hitler would overrun this country too, they emigrated to the USA. Listening to Edith talk about her experiences as an immigrant was enlightening. The difficulty of having to learn a new language twice in 5 years, to learn new customs and the desire to fit in and become ‘Americanised’ reflected some of the issues relevant to some of our students today.

As Edith’s family were Jewish on her father’s side and Catholic on her mother’s side, they experienced the full consequence of Nazi Policies. On the one hand 42 members of her father’s family died in concentration camps and yet on the other, she had cousins in Austria who were forced to become members of the Hitler Youth, whether they liked it or not.

Edith has returned to Austria in recent years and a memorial has been established by her home town to remember victims of the Holocaust. She said that most people who fled did not want to return to their home town, because they felt betrayed by friends and neighbours. In school we are taught to try to forgive and to reconcile and so found this a little difficult to understand, but on further reflection, I realised that part of the message is that we all have a duty to stop this type of event from happening again. Her message was clear -as individuals we should take a stand against oppression, annihilation and genocide in the same way that Nicholas Winter did when he helped rescue hundreds of children from Czechoslovakia. Both the Czechs and the Austrians who suffered at the hands of Nazi persecution thought that their country was civilized, that they had a good quality of life and that this could not happen to them. Edith Jayne points out that it could happen anywhere.

Mrs Bowland, Joint Head of History, with contributions from Alex Fearn, Ruth Wilson and Rachel Walmsley.

Structural Engineer


Physics, Design and Technology, Maths, Further Maths

Physics (University of Oxford)

Structural Engineering (Imperial College London)

Roma is an associate structural engineer at WSP who has designed bridges, skyscrapers and sculptures with leading architects.

She spent six years working on the Shard in London, for which she designed the foundations and spire.

“I really enjoy my job, every day is challenging and creative, and I don’t know many people that can genuinely say that. Engineering is a great way to use the maths and problem solving skills that I learnt from studying physics to do something practical. My favourite part is being able to point at cool buildings (like the Shard) and say, ‘I designed that!’

“My day at work varies depending on what stage my project is at. We start with conceptual design, meeting architects and clients to turn ideas into something that will stand up once built. During the design phase we do calculations, running computer models to test our design. And finally during construction, I visit site regularly to solve problems that occur as a building takes its physical form. The skills are transferrable anywhere in the world, and I’ve already had the opportunity to work in different countries.”

Although Roma has always been interested in architecture and design, she didn’t make the decision to become an engineer until partway through her degree.

“It is understandably difficult to know what you want to do with your life at 16. I chose to study physics at university, as it excited me the most and I believe that is the best way to ensure you get a rewarding education.  It kept my options open so that I could specialise later when I decided that I wanted to be an engineer.

“Engineering is such a fun and rewarding career. If you enjoy maths and physics, you should consider it. There are hundreds of different types of engineering you can look at, everything we eat, buy, our trains and cars, homes and offices would not be possible without engineers.”

Read next:

Roma the Engineer

From India to London Bridge: How the UK’s rising engineering star Roma Agrawal helped build The Shard – The Telegraph

A one-day diary from morning latte to lights out –

You can find more information about careers in physics by visiting

Clinical Scientist

Emma uses her physics knowledge every day when looking after patients.

“I am constantly applying the physics I have learned to help diagnose medical problems,” says Emma, who uses computers to model how patients regulate blood-pressure and heart-rate. “The ultimate aim is to diagnose and treat heart disease earlier,” she explains. “I also work in surgical theatres, monitoring the status of patients’ spinal cords during major operations. If there is a problem I alert the surgeon, so they can prevent paralysis of the patient.”

You can find more information about careers in physics by visiting