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The day before the School broke up for half term was “Enrichment Day”, a regular occurrence when over three quarters of the School is involved in trips and activities organised off site.
For the Lower and Upper Fifth (Years 10 and 11), the focus of the day was on outdoor activities. Several Upper Fifth pupils spent the day planning their future practice expedition that forms part of their Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award. The remainder of the Fifth Forms took part in a CCF Field Day: those in the Royal Navy section went to Aqua Sports in Redhill, where they did a combination of kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding and raft building; the army and RAF cadets both went to Pirbright, where the army cadets had their first night camping in bashas, while the RAF section learnt basic field craft skills.
For the Fourth Form (Year 9) pupils, by contrast, the focus was more cultural. For example, the History Department organised an excursion to the British Museum. For many, this was their first chance to see the Elgin Marbles, the Aztec gallery and the ancient Egyptian gallery. Their horizons were broadened, too, by an exhibition of artefacts relating to life and death in cultures from around the world. Meanwhile, the Religious Studies Department took another group to Salisbury Cathedral. There, pupils were fascinated by a number of things: the world’s oldest working clock, the tallest spire in the UK and a beautiful window which commemorates prisoners of conscience. Having visited the Cathedral they then toured Salisbury itself, completing a quiz on various aspects of the Cathedral and city. For those Fourth Form pupils with a special interest or talent in music, a special treat was on offer. The Music Department organised for them an excursion to Glyndebourne to see an opera. At Glyndebourne, ticket prices for operas can cost as much as £100 a seat, but that day there was a special performance for schools of Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. It was introduced with an instructive talk for the audience. The opera itself, sung in Italian with English subtitles, was inspirational. For most of our pupils who have never been to an opera before, it will hopefully open up the world of opera to them.
Many Sixth Form pupils, too, took part in trips. The RAF cadets among them went flying at RAF Benson. Several others, as senior cadets, accompanied the other CCF trips and yet another group of cadets spent the day paintballing. At the same time, a group studying A level English visited the recently renovated Imperial War Museum. This provided them with an excellent opportunity to deepen their understanding of the First World War and the context in which their chosen coursework texts were written and received. The interactive World War 1 gallery gave pupils a valuable overview of the causes, events and consequences of the war, which will enrich their understanding of the poetry and other texts they will be writing about in the second half of term.
Former Minister of Education Michael Gove once said, “Children should be able to go on exciting school trips that broaden their horizons”. At St John’s, educational visits have always been a regular part of a pupil’s experience.
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