Here Comes The Sun! Flexyweek 2022
The sun was shining as we arrived at school on Monday for our first Flexyweek since 2019. The weather forecasts promised us a scorcher of a week, and all round the school there were hats, water bottles and the smell of suncream. Those people whose activities were in air-conditioned classrooms were very, very relieved. How would we cope with the week’s tropical temperatures? Did we melt in the unfamiliar sun? And what did we get up to?
By 8.20 on Monday morning, the coaches carrying Year Seven to their residential were already departing for their long journey to the Lake District. Meanwhile, Year Ten were preparing to go paintballing at Ancaster, and small knots of students were plotting their strategies and deciding who their first targets would be.
By 9.00, the Atrium had been transformed into a temporary gym, ready for Year Twelve to learn about self-defence. Students worked in pairs to practice their skills, and many discovered a hidden side to their partners, as previously mild-mannered people unleashed kicks and punches and worked off their hidden aggression. Other Year Twelve groups, meanwhile, were learning about careers in the civil service, drafting their personal statements and taking part in a variety of Critical Thinking activities. Some of the most challenging activities for Year Twelve took place in the Lifeskills sessions, where students wrestled with ironing, putting up wallpaper, hanging out washing and setting a table, while other students danced with glowsticks in the Clubbercise session in the Board Room.
Out on the field, the Year Eight multisports groups were playing handball, Gaelic and American football and softball. This was a great chance for them to have a go at sports that they don’t necessarily encounter in the main PE curriculum. They certainly tackled them with enthusiasm, and many students commented that they enjoyed having the chance to try something different. The other half of Year Eight took part in a percussion workshop in the Main Hall, where they created samba rhythms using drums, agogo bells, tambourines and shakers. The music certainly matched the heat!
Year Nine had the best deal temperature-wise on Monday, being based in the air-conditioned cool of the English Department for their Pace Day. They took part in a carousel of activities and learnt about topics including substance abuse, healthy relationships, coercive behaviour, County Lines and online safety. One particularly thought-provoking workshop involved analysing evidence from a road traffic accident. Students were asked to consider the actions and behaviours that have an impact on road safety, and were given sobering messages about the dangers of Lincolnshire roads. The course leader pointed out that as students move into Year Ten, they have a responsibility to act as positive influences by modelling safe, sensible behaviour to younger students.
In the afternoon, groups circulated round their different activities and had the chance to reflect on what they’d done during the day. Students in Year Nine commented on how well-presented their Pace workshops had been, and said that they’d been given lots of useful information on helping themselves and others to stay safe. The Year Ten Careers session gave students an insight into how major food producers use technology to create products for retailers, and offered a fun and engaging task. Year Twelve found their career's session in the Civil Service extremely worthwhile, and it set some students on a possible new direction for the future.
Tuesday saw a change of pace and venue for many people, with Year Twelve setting off for a visit to Lincoln University and half of Year Nine heading to Planet Ice in Peterborough for what must have been a very welcome chance to cool down. For many, it was their first time ice-skating, and Mr Walker reports that impressive performances were produced by Dragos Cirlan and Neo Thorpe. Another natural ice-skater, Jack Bowser, began creating an ice-skating chain to support his peers getting around the ice, whilst Rayyan Asif used his Spanish vocabulary to engage in dialogue with visiting European students. Toby Hart, meanwhile, deserves an honourable mention for managing to remain upright for no longer than a minute at a time, but refusing to give in throughout the visit!
Year Ten, meanwhile, had an energetic quiz with representatives from the National Citizen Service and then had the chance to learn about a range of different careers, including construction, engineering and computing. Up in the Lake District, students were having a fantastic time, with Miss Barratt’s group reporting that they’d had the BEST fun out on the water, building rafts, racing and ghyll scrambling. Miss Barratt said that she was very proud of her adventurous students for throwing themselves (literally) into the activities, sliding down rocks and jumping into plunge pools with cries of ‘This is the best thing ever!’ Those of us who were still in the heat of Spalding wished that we could install a plunge pool in the school grounds for the next time the temperatures get so high …
Year Twelve had a range of activities to do on Wednesday. Several groups spent the morning engaged in a fiendish Scavenger Hunt that involved tracking down items in school and scanning QR codes that would then give them their next clue. Others continued their Life Skills work from Monday in the school kitchens. There was an intriguing smell of burnt toast that, on further investigation, proved to have come from Kian Weetman’s attempt to create a unique kind of flapjack, enriched with protein powder. Fortunately, he had a large jar of Nutella to cover the burnt bits! If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen … Other students were making pizza from scratch, kneading dough and deciding what toppings to use.
Year Nine, meanwhile, were busy being creative. One half of the year took part in a Street Art workshop, using techniques such as collage, spray-painting, stencilling and using found images to create a piece of artwork that explored the theme of icons. Their final pieces were very impressive! The other half were exploring the themes of identity and individuality in a Spoken Word Poetry workshop, listening to the works of poets such as Mark Grist and Hollie McNish before creating and performing their own poems. There was a huge amount of thoughtful work going on in the group-year, and it was lovely to see students having the chance to draw on their own ideas and concerns. Year Ten spent the day in a number of different workshops, led by the motivational speaker The Speaker With The Orange Tie, the poet Harry Baker and a representative from Zakon Crime and Investigation Skills Training, who introduced students to careers in criminology.
Wednesday also saw half of Year 8 travel to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. An excellent experience was had by all as students visited a range of hangars, dedicated to Air Space, Land Warfare, American Air, and the Battle of Britain. There was also something of an air show going on and students witnessed a number of classic planes taking off and landing. The other half of Year 8 remained in school for a Psychology Workshop, where they engaged with a range of resources and activities designed to deceive both the eye and the mind.
On Thursday, the two halves of Year 8 switched to the activity they hadn’t taken part in on Wednesday – Mrs Vigus Humphrey and Ms Skipworth leading another battalion to the IWM Duxford; the rest enjoying testing each other with the psychology experiments and seeing what the outcomes were – or, as one student put it: “It’s fun seeing people fail!”
Thursday also saw the reverse of Wednesday’s activities for Year 9, with more creative artistry and poetry taking place around the School. Year 12 was, once again, cooking – producing an array of pizza and flapjack – and taking part in a range of life skills workshops. A particular highlight was the Active Listening Skills Workshop, led by representatives from the University of Winchester, as part of which students were asked to draw what others were describing. The outcomes were … interesting; was that a butterfly or an alien spacecraft?
Friday, of course, saw the return of the SGS Challenge. We donned our trainers and sun hats; we slapped on sunscreen and laced up our walking boots, and headed off along the river for a circuit of Cowbit Wash. As the forecasts predicted, we were indeed walking in sunshine, but the temperatures stayed manageable and there was a very welcome summer breeze as students and staff (and Charlie, Mrs Cavalec’s dog) made their way across the fields and along the footpaths. It was lovely to see so much wildlife – swallows and egrets and a very cute family of ducklings – and to have the chance to chat to different people. We all felt a huge sense of achievement at the end of our ten or eighteen miles!
As we left school on Friday afternoon, Year 7 were just returning from the Lake District, with suitcases full of washing and lots of stories to tell of their adventures in the hills. An excellent week – thanks to everyone involved for making it such a success.