Dates for your Diary
I was lucky enough to be in Sorrento last week. A beautiful part of Italy, but ferociously hot. Being, by descent, from the West coast of Ireland I am not genetically predisposed to cope with intense heat. Overcast with possible light drizzle is my favoured climate. As we plodded slowly through the crowds, irritable and desperately seeking shade, we noticed a sign advertising a Francis Bacon exhibition. We were only 100 metres from the exhibition. The entry fee was only 5 Euros. It was being hosted at the beautiful, 1930s built, Villa Fiorentino. And, wonderfully, it was air conditioned. Cool and shady. Serendipity. The timing was fortuitous, the exhibition was fascinating. It featured the Surrealist works that Bacon had produced in the 1930s, such as the above self-portrait, and a variety of photomontages constructed from old newspaper, featuring De Gaulle and Kennedy. Rather than his famous portraits, the exhibition highlighted his first attempts to develop a style and the way in which much of his work was commodified and sold, often against his wishes, by friends and associates. Betrayal and greed were as relevant as style or genre. Art stimulates curiosity and a desire to learn more; Bacon’s art is disturbing, his life complicated.
The murals at Pompeii and Herculaneum also suggest the variety of ways in which art was important, but they say much more about power, wealth, status and religious belief. The impulse to be creative has always been integral to the human condition, but the role of art has always been more complicated.
Many feel that the role of art within education is being either marginalised or completely neglected. That it is viewed as being second class, or worthless. O 8th May a number of high profile artists, including Grayson Perry, Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread wrote to the Guardian stating that:
There is compelling evidence that the study of creative subjects is in decline in state schools and that entries to arts and creative subjects have fallen to their lowest level in a decade. Young people are being deprived of opportunities for personal development in the fields of self-expression, sociability, imagination and creativity….If we care about social mobility, wellbeing and economic growth – and if we want our creative industries to continue to flourish – we need to rebalance our education system so that the arts are valued just as much as other subjects. Every child should have equal access to the benefits that the arts and culture bring, not just a privileged few.
Variants of this letter have been drafted since Michael Gove’s educational reforms and there is clearly a perception that creative subjects or viewed as being less important than those featured in the Ebacc. (Not actually a qualification at all, but a school curriculum measure). With continuing financial pressures, many schools have been forced to make difficult curriculum decisions that may well have adversely affected art, music and other ‘creative’ subjects. (All subjects are creative, just in different ways).
In late May we made two excellent appointments in art and design and technology. We will continue to support creative subjects, as they perform a vital function within the development of young people and offer ways in which students can broaden their education and life experiences. If education is meant to stimulate and challenge, then art has an obvious role to play within schools.
Parent App Reminder
Many parents have signed up to the Parent App and are now successfully using it. However, we have noticed that, in a number of instances, parents have not yet activated their accounts. We would advise parents to check their email folders for a validation email sent from the school. This email includes a link which must be clicked to complete the activation process.
Mr Garside, Strategic Leader for ICT
Latin Department Notices
Year 8 Latin students are welcome to collect their models of Roman rooms and houses in Pompeii from La8 - prizes have been awarded! As well as a lot of creative effort, the students' work showed a lot of clear understanding of Roman houses and how they were used.
Pompeii Study Visit
Those students in Years 8 to 10 who have paid their deposit for the study visit to Pompeii in October should watch out for a letter next week confirming the final balance payment which is due by the end of this term. It is still possible to join the study visit. Please contact me urgently for full details.
The DJ 2018 World Cup Tournament will take place in June 2018. Each House will represent a country.
Please click on the link below for full details.
Year 10 Computing
Our Y10 Computing students have been working collaboratively, to design, and create, a micro:bit powered game.
We gave them the brief “work together, use the micro:bit, be creative, test and present”.
We were absolutely delighted with the final results (we also had a lot of fun testing them out!).
Well done Y10, you excelled!
Miss Forbes, Mr Digby & Mr Garside, Computing department
Word of the Week
Durham Johnston Gardening Club
The gardening club have been extremely busy this since Easter. The greenhouse, which was donated last year, is in full operational use, with temperatures reaching 39oC. The plastic bottle greenhouse is almost finished with only a small section of one side to complete; we are about 150 bottles short. If you have any straight 2 Litre clear plastic bottles we would be very grateful if you could drop them off in school.
With a cold start to the year, the plants were a bit slow getting started, but they are now flourishing. We are growing a wider variety of crops this year including, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, redcurrants, rhubard, leeks, onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and celery.
The success of the gardening club is down to the hard work of our science Technicians Miss Robson and Mrs Argument. Together they have built the bottle greenhouse and made staging and benches from old pallets. Their dedication resulted in the school being awarded a Highly Recommended at the Durham Council Environment Awards evening.
Finally, the pond is a hive of activity at this time of year with an abundance of frog and newt spawn. We hope to see these continue to develop over the coming months.
Mr Bowman, Science Department
Term and holiday dates 2018-2020