Welcome to the end of the school year edition of our ‘Webberzine’. To say it has been a year with a few challenges would be an understatement, but those challenges have not inhibited the achievements within our school community.
You may remember the virtual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) Awards Evening in the autumn term, when we had NASA astronaut Nicole Stott as our guest speaker, to celebrate student achievement in the STEAM subjects. This adaptation to running virtual versions of our normal school events continued as the nation entered another ‘lockdown’ in January 2021. And whilst this sudden imposed change to our plans for the rest of the term could have diminished the enthusiasm and desire to excel from our students and staff, it did the opposite.
The spring ‘lockdown’ was a challenge for some, but for many it was an opportunity to thrive. Our Heads of House organised a ‘Bake-Off’ competition, our transition team organised and delivered the STEAM roadshow and staff nominated students as ‘Lockdown Legends’ for the work they did which went above and beyond our high expectations. Our staff and students embraced their virtual tutor time every morning, which started their working day and reinforced the good learning behaviours all students need. When the time came to return to learning in school, our students took the requirements for having lateral flow device tests in their stride – once again, the resilience of our school community shone through.
After the Easter break, a number of our students and staff embraced the recommendation to be outside, with a number of students completing their John Muir Award and an even greater number completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The determination of our staff to support our students to continue their Duke of Edinburgh Award was particularly impressive, when we consider many other schools across the country had to suspend their Duke of Edinburgh Award programmes.
Our staff and students continued to look for ways to adapt to the national guidelines in order to ensure opportunities for personal development were not missed. The ‘STEAM Team’ facilitated a virtual medical careers event for students in Years 9 and 10 interested in medical science careers and a large number of our Year 10s were able to complete a week of work experience as national restrictions eased. Our transition team welcomed the Year 6s and their parents in for Tutor Group ‘Induction Evenings’, which were ably supported by our newly appointed prefect team. These experiences were not common in many schools and to be able to run them all in our school exemplified our ethos of working together to ensure success for all.
At the end of another year, I would like you to join me in thanking all our students and staff for the support they have given and the kindness they have shown to each other, over the past year. I would also like to thank the parents/carers of our students, particularly for the kind messages of thanks and praise about our staff, sent to the school just before Christmas and throughout the year. These acknowledgements of how our staff regularly go that ‘extra-mile’ for the students have been greatly appreciated.
So, as we turn our thoughts to next year, I would like to conclude by recognising the contributions of staff who will be leaving us at the end of the year.
Mr R Butler and Mr B Hunter have finished their contracts with us, providing cover for lessons when teachers have been absent and supporting students at break times.
Miss H Newbold and Mrs N Birring have finished their contracts as teaching assistants, providing specialist support for our students.
Mrs S Hammerton has accepted a teaching post at Shrewsbury College and will be joining their science department from 1st September.
Ms J Hall has finished her contract as Curriculum Advisor to the school, after moving on from her post as Deputy Headteacher in August 2020. Ms J Hall has worked at the school since 1997, making significant contributions to the smooth running of the school and leading our designation as a Science College. We wish her every success in her new consultancy business.
The final three members of staff who are leaving us are retiring and have qualified for a Long Service Award, based on their continued employment with Shropshire Local Authority, as well as being well-established figures at Mary Webb School and Science College – Mr P Salmon, Mrs J Challinor and Mr G Davies.
Mr P Salmon joined the school as Business Manager in 2008. He has supported three headteachers with his leadership of school finance and operations which has ensured the secure financial position we find ourselves in today. His dedication to ensuring the school is able to provide for the learning of all students has been unwavering.
Mrs J Challinor has been the school’s main receptionist for 13 years, after starting as a teaching assistant in 1996. She has become a familiar face to the students and wider community of Mary Webb School and Science College through her loyal service to the school.
Mr G Davies, our Deputy Headteacher, joined the school in 1984. His dedicated service to the students and staff of our school over the years has seen him adopt many roles, adapting to the needs of the school. However, the consistent thread he brought to all of his roles is his people-centred approach – he has always put the best interests of students and staff first.
We wish all our colleagues the very best in their future endeavours – we have all benefitted from working with them over the years.
I hope you enjoy reading this edition of the Webberzine – we are truly lucky to have such talented youngsters and staff in our school community.
I hope you all enjoy a well-deserved, restful and relaxing summer break.
Mr P J Lowe-Werrell
Just Like Us School Diversity Week 21st-25th June 2021
Announcing our Senior Students for 2021/22
Barcelona House Captains
Sophie Edwards and Ross Barnes
Kathmandu House Captains
Diego Palacios Higuera and Alanah Carr
Kathmandu House Captains
Gilbert Southworth-White and Ffion Korsak
Sydney House Captains
Max Rowe and Brianne McKenzie
Threyaa Senthil Kumar
A Note from our DofE Manger
In 2019 Mary Webb School became a licensed Organisation to start to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Uptake was very positive, and many students enrolled onto their Bronze Award…then the pandemic took hold and impacted our plans.
The Pandemic & Postponement…
I took the difficult decision to postpone the DofE Bronze 2020 expedition by a full year to July 2021 and fortunately it proved to be a good decision. Although it did mean that we had 3 expeditions (Yr 9, 10 & 11) running separately this year due to the ‘Bubbles’ system in place which certainly has made for a busy last term… but one that was truly worth it.
Due to the pandemic we chose to omit the overnight camping meaning we operated two separate ‘day trips’ from Mary Webb school which followed recent government guidelines. The expedition started out from Mary Webb school and finished at The Bog in the Stiperstones. It was roughly a 12Km walk / 6 hours + journeying on undulated terrain through the Shropshire countryside. What was fantastic to see, was how well students used their training to navigate soundly, support each other while journeying and show good teamwork. In short, their resilience was superb.
I am immensely proud of all Mary Webb Students who have engaged with their DofE Bronze award from Volunteering, Physical and Skill sections plus not forgetting the Expedition section. Throughout, students have shown resilience, commitment, and a general joy in being involved with their DofE Bronze Award. The DofE Bronze Award has so many other benefits I urge any students considering getting involved to just speak to someone who’s completed it.
Want to get involved with the DofE Bronze Award?
I will be delivering a DofE Interest assembly to Yr 8 students (ready for when these students are in year 9) during this last week of term. Interested students will then receive invite letters the first week back in the Autumn Term (September 2021) to invite parents/guardians to a DofE Interest Evening (pending COVID guidelines).
What about Silver Award?
We will be running DofE Silver award next year – interested students who have already completed the Bronze Award can pick up letters in September to enrol for the Silver award.
If you are a student reading this and interested in a unique and challenging adventure, DofE could just be what you’re looking for! Parents/Guardians I hope this article has given you a flavour of the benefits DofE can bring to your son/daughter. In the meantime, feel free to browse the DofE Section on our website: https://marywebbschool.com/duke-of-edinburgh/ and check out the DofE website which has lots of super information regarding all DofE awards: https://www.dofe.org/
Well done to all DofE students – you should be very proud of your achievements; I certainly know I am!
See you next year!
A Note from some of our DofE students
DofE Expedition 20th July 2021
We arrived at school early (by many of our standards) on Sunday 20th July for Day 1 of our expedition. The plan was to walk to The Bog Visitor Centre and, ideally, get there at 5pm at the latest. We (Group 2) started to make plans to be the first group to arrive…
After a staggered start and a quick introduction to our newest recruit, friend and enemy (which sort of says a lot about how our moods varied along the walk) aka the bright-orange emergency canvas, we set off and everything was fine until we began walking around Pontesford Hill and then it went literally and metaphorically downhill from there… nobody could agree on which way to walk to get to Habberley! It eventually transpired that we chose the wrong route but, with about a dozen family-sized bags of sweets with us, we weren’t too fazed: even when, after ages of walking along a road and placing a card at a non-existent checkpoint, we discovered that we were miles away from where we should have been, we merely whipped out the sweets and initiated the famous hysterical laughter on the side of a road before continuing on our way, having decided that it would take less time to continue on our own, newly-discovered route to get to the Habberley checkpoint… that one leg of the walk took an age to complete! Yet, just beyond the Habberley checkpoint, we were discovered by Greg, another of the leaders, who assured us that we were not the first and will not be the last D of E group to get lost, and sent on our way with the promise of having lunch at our next destination with him so that he could check on us again. We were the “Lost Group” and were greeted with a combination of confused expressions, laughter and relief when we saw the other groups and leaders. Following lunch, we realised where we were and how to get to The Bog so we trekked past Blakemore Cottages, along the hills at Cranberry Rocks and down the road and fields to The Bog. We were the last group to arrive but we were back by 5pm, had learned a lot and were smiling, which was the most important thing!
DofE Expedition 21st July 2021
The second and final day of our D of E Expedition was our (Group 2’s) favourite for a combination of reasons: the walking was minimal and we had managed to smuggle half of the Co-Op and Tesco’s into our rucksacks. Naturally, we were exhausted from the previous day of back-to-back walking with aches and pains from carrying rucksacks and stumbling over the rocks along the home-straight and the additional equipment required for cooking and building a shelter that were contained in an immense green rucksack did not go down all that well (neither did the dead rat that was discovered in the brook by another group later on) but the morning at least was relaxing. We made our shelter by a brook and laid out our new supplies of sweets, biscuits and cake before cooking some pasta with tomato sauce on the Trangia we had carried.
However, in the second half of the day, we were expected to walk again with the added heavy equipment that we had to drag up and down some hills, whilst proving that we were capable of navigating and getting our Bronze D of E Expedition ticked off… no pressure! Somewhat surprisingly, neither our group nor the boys’ group we were partnered with got lost, although we did slightly run out of time towards the end, but we (Group 2) retained our reputation as the last group to arrive back at school, yet just in time to catch the bus!
When we returned from our final walk on the 21st July, which effectively signalled the end of our Bronze D of E experience, Mr Seager asked a few groups how they would describe it in 3 words…
That sums up the D of E experience for us personally since we would be lying if we said that we found all of it really easy because elements did push us quite close to the edge but we came away feeling all the better for it just knowing that we did not give up, that we were just one of the groups of students at Mary Webb School and Science College that had just completed their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award 2020-2021.
Lily, Hattie, Rebecca, India, Jamie and Ruby
John Muir Award
During the last year 10 Mary Webb students took part in the John Muir award. We met on Friday mornings for 2 hours over 13 weeks (though we had to have a few breaks due to COVID-19 and school holidays).
We took part in the discovery level award which takes a minimum of 25 hours to complete and includes 4 phases: discover, explore, conserve and share.
John Muir was born in Scotland in 1838. He grew up fascinated with the natural world and after moving to America pioneered conservation work among many other things including writing poetry. The award gave us insight into the life of John Muir and the legacy of his work. We also discovered lots about the wild places close to the school and what makes them special.
We explored Earls hill nature reserve in all sorts of ways; hikes to the summit, barefoot walking and scrambling through the gorge. Seeing the area from different perspectives and getting up close to nature connected us to our surroundings and brought them to life for us in new ways.
For our conservation project we linked up with the Stepping Stones Project coordinated by the National Trust. The aim of the project is to join up habitats which will allow for animal species to access more of the countryside and grow in numbers. One of these important species is the hazel dormouse. Dormice are very cute and their population is under threat in the UK, their habitat is woodland and hedgerows where hazel trees are found. For our project we took part in a survey where we had to find hazelnuts that had been nibbled and then try and identify which creature had done the nibbling, it wasn’t easy. Sadly, we didn’t get a clear dormouse ID but we did find bank vole and shrew nibbled nuts. Lots of people participated in the survey and it did result in 2 positive new dormouse location ID’s elsewhere in the district. For the second phase of our project we took on the challenge of making some dormouse nest boxes which will be used by the Stepping Stones project in known dormouse locations to help conserve the species. Making the boxes was fun but frustrating at times, working with a hard wood does not make for easy sawing!
During the course of the award we took part in a variety of creative activities; embroidery, making a miniature national park and creative writing. Sharing the creative work with the group was inspiring and funny at times! To wrap up the award we made mac & cheese, garlic bread and s’mores over a campfire whilst remembering some of our best moments.
Funniest things – Hannah (leader) falling in the water, barefoot walking, night-line.
Most creative – dormouse houses, sewing, art, making the national park.
Most energetic – climbing the hill, gorge exploring, tree climbing.
Most peaceful – poem writing, forest bathing.
The John Muir award has been a lot of fun, an opportunity to learn new things about nature especially dormice and it’s been great making new friends. We hope that the John Muir award will run again next year!
A vertical poem by Sophie to finish:
Never laying still
Awakening the earth
Reaching to pull you in
Enchanting you in its magic
Every year the STEAM roadshow visits all of the local primary schools with the aim of getting year 6 students excited about studying STEAM subjects at secondary school through the use of lots of fun, hands-on activities. Unfortunately, this year the roadshow couldn’t take place in its normal form, however we did set all of our potential year 6 students a virtual task. Mrs Lee sent a video message to all primary schools and challenged them to build a model skeleton out of any materials they wanted, the more creative the better. We received lots of great entries and would like to say a massive thank you to all the year 6 students who took part, and the parents and teachers who supported them. Well done! We hope to take the STEAM roadshow back in primary schools in person next year.
Virtual Medical Careers Event
On Wednesday 23rd of June a small number of year 9s and 10s participated in a virtual medical careers event that was organised by Shrewsbury College. There were a number of activities that were held and plenty of opportunities to ask questions about medical school, such as the general grade requirement for both GCSEs and A-Levels. We went through a booklet regarding a difficult scenario about a woman needing a kidney transplant, yet suffering from “sticky-blood” syndrome meaning that the risk of death was high. She also had a young child to look after. This gave us a sense of the difficult situations that doctors and health professionals go through every day. Overall it was a very interesting and a very informative session,
By Jake Williams 10C
On Wednesday 23rd of June we got an opportunity to join a virtual medical careers event, conducted at Mary Webb School and organised by Shrewsbury Colleges Group. We met a medical student in her third year and went through the procedures of applying to study medicine at university. Later on, we had an interactive session to learn about diagnosing patients from their symptoms and various tests (including taking our own temperatures!) We also had an interaction with a General Practitioner working in Shrewsbury, we asked them lots of questions about their job. We all found it very interesting and learnt a lot of information about studying medicine in the future.
By Threyaa Senthil Kumar 10B