Friday, 13 July 2018

Summer: Time to Escape Reality

We hope that, over the holiday, you enjoy the new 'Dreams and Reality' issue of Portsmouth Point magazine, published today.

The editors wish all of our readers a relaxing summer, dreaming in the sunshine and taking the opportunity to escape reality for a while.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Why Learning Through Play is an Important Aspect of Childhood

by Eleanor Barber

Play is a major part of childhood, every child plays. Play is an important part of our development and learning. It helps set milestones for children to achieve. Many children go to organised activities, like playgroups and nurseries, or do more physical organised activities like dance and swimming. These not only introduce formal play but prepare children for more formal school life.

Children are able to learn through experiencing the world around them as well as watching those around them. It is intrinsic to a child’s development and will affect them well into adulthood, due to the way the brain can change during the early years of life. When deprived of play children will suffer in the present as well as in the long term.

Play increases brain development and growth, as creates new neural connections and improves the ability to perceive other peoples emotional state. Play theorist Brian Sutton-Smith believes that children are born with huge neuronal over-capacity, which if not used will die. This could suggest that learning during early childhood is essential to allow further learning into the adult life. He suggests that play is teaching children how to relate to others, how to uses their muscles and how to think in abstract terms, amongst many other things. While play does not teach specific information, it teaches children how to solve future problems. of. lack of play that is were the real problem lies.

While there are many advantages to play, it is the disadvantages of lack of play that the real problem lies. This is because that without play has few opportunities to explore their surroundings, so will fail to make links between neutrons, making learning in the future harder for children without play than children with play.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

PGS Chamber Choir Meets the Tallis Scholars

by Dorothy Whyte-Venables

On Friday 22nd June, the Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir were invited to sing in concert with the Tallis Scholars. This concert was part of the 2018 Portsmouth Festivities. The award winning choir were founded in 1973 by their director, Peter Phillips; they consist of 10 mixed voices and have established themselves as the leading exponents of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world. Their repertoire ranges from canticles by composers such as Gibbons, Britten and Pärt to Masses such as the Mass for Four voices by Byrd to glorious anthems such as Song for Athene by Tavener and Hymn to the Virgin by Britten.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Encouraging a Passion for Languages

by Lewis Wells

Students are dropping languages in their thousands. Here’s what needs to change.
I’ve always had a passion for languages, whether that stems from my participation in French classes in my junior academy and winning little prizes, or my interest in gaining an advantage over others and finding my niche in beginning German through secondary school, the overall concept of language-learning and cultural enrichment is what drives me academically. As mathematics, science and humanities does for pupils more adequately suited to their learning and driven by their results within. 

That does however not go to say that the absence of linguistic flair or “being a natural” makes you unable to learn, enjoy or solidify language learning. I’ve witnessed through 5 years of being within a state secondary school with albeit an enthusiastic and resourceful department, uninterested, bored and distraught pupils, relishing the day when they can finally throw that language away. I don’t think that the fault lies with teaching or pupils. Sure, the cogs all work in sync, but the general direction of such a trend originates from the examboards themselves. I don’t think the examboards have created exams in which more linguistically driven pupils excel or are rewarded; I think they are poorly crafted, monotonous exams that reward a variety of random skills that detract from the overall concept and reward of language learning — memory, pace of information absorption, excessive and untapped grammar, the list goes on.

“I don’t think that the fault lies with teaching or pupils”
 No, I don’t encourage the exam board to dispel all these skills, rather that they should programme a set of exams that is equally enjoyable as it is challenging. As a population we are moving away from facilitating subjects either towards a firm mathematical and science-based field, or the world of newly-originating subjects and their world-of-work revolving creation. The GCSEs freshly mobilised by the former Secretary for Education I have no experience with, save for the understanding that one is expected to write instantaneously in their exams for a passage, and answer in their target language more often. Ideas most sensical given the nature of what one would be expected to do within higher education for languages. But wait, no one really is progressing to these higher educational opportunities anymore, so why are we teasing pupils at younger ages, with the expectation that they will revolt the trend and suddenly discover fascination for the field once again? 

“They should programme a set of exams that is equally enjoyable as it is challenging”
No. We need to be in one way bribing our pupils at young ages with the endless possibilities to language learn. One example, that we learn as we do with our own. There is no shred of content within our current primary courses that places focus on listening to the Radio, watching television, reading the news or simply discovering art and culture of the target language nations. Why don’t we ask our pupils to make posters, draw something, find out something our teachers may not know of, to highlight the scope of language learning and the cultural enrichment such a feat unlocks (that all counts towards something as well)? We need to remove the chains, per se, in enabling our pupils to tackle their challenging tasks without the structural limitations, word counts, time limits, that make language learning robotic and quite frankly, stressful. I want to see classes with every pupil working differently, uniquely, independently, with the confidence that their individual interest within languages is welcomed and applicable in at least a few purposeful tasks in their overall GCSE. 

What PGS Teachers Will Be Reading this Summer: III

The summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading. 

Here, Dr Richmond, Ms Hart and Mr Oliver reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August. 

Dr Richmond

This summer I will be re-reading Germaine Greer’s book The Female Eunuch. This was an international bestseller in 1970 and 1971 and it nearly sold out on its second printing run in 1971. The book is an important text in the feminist movement which argues that the traditional consumerist and nuclear family represses women sexually rendering them eunuchs. She goes on to say society has been shaped by masculine domination and women need to rise up and fight against the male species by starting a sexual revolution. For Greer, women should not burn their bras because “if you make bralessness a rule, you’re subjecting yourself to yet another repression”. I used to despise feminism and could not see a real problem and only read the book to join the criticism of it: but I have revised my view in light of the #metoo campaign (I am aware that Greer hates this movement as it brandishes women as victims yet again). Therefore, on my second reading of her book this summer I will read it with fresh insight and as a woman desiring equality and fairness.

Ms Hart

I am excited about summer reading this year.  My daughter, Lily (7), has discovered the joys of curling up with a book and has been taken under Dr Webb’s wing with her reading list. My son, Ivan (4), also delights in visits to our local library and loves to grab a book and perch himself in the library’s large model train. So, for me, summer looks to be one full of reading out loud, sharing delightful picture books and sitting in the sun to read my own selection whilst the kids play in their new summer house.

I have already raided the Sixth Form collection but also have chosen to read a number of young adult novels, most notably this year’s Carnegie Medal winner Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean. Dr Webb has already got me hooked on it after sharing a dramatic extract! 

After Sophie Whitehead recommended Room by Emma Donoghue to me about three years ago, I have finally got round to taking it out and I am really excited about reading it.  I remember Sophie being completely animated when talking about it so I am hoping it will be a real page-turner. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Overcoming Prejudice

by Claudia Bishop

What makes us human? We are all simply a combination of hair colour, eye shapes, family history, body shapes and billions of different variables put together to make us unique. Why then are we all judged separately? Surely we have limited control over how we look. I read a book earlier this year called Everyday By David Levithan. It is about a soul names A who Everyday takes on the form of someone new, always their age, never the same person twice. In the book A meets a girl called Rhiannon and falls in love.Not only does it follow a teen love story, it also tackles many issues around how we look and how therefore we are judged.

It is interesting as ‘A’ gives an insight of how human judgement changes with appearance. One day A is an attractive girl with a beyonce style body and attracts the attention of people around her. On another day A is an obese teen attracting looks of disgust from those around him. It is fascinating to speculate society from this angle and to obtain insights of judgement from a spirit who experiences all of them.

 It made me question many things. For one, Are we just the way we look? Does society focus too much on our appearance and does that change how we see the people under the skin?. Also, it left me with the question:

Should we really judge a book by it’s cover?

Judging people solely by appearance is extremely restrictive, reduces one's opportunities and produces limiting beliefs that can form the basis of prejudice. Many of us subscribe to the movie streaming website netflix, whilst scrolling through i realised that i was not choosing certain films due to how they were presented and not due to their overview. There are thousands of movies and TV programmes on netflix yet we are deterred from watching anything that doesn't have a high impact photo. This mirrors society, as appearances are of paramount importance. Think about how many people and films we miss because of our judgement.

Big Baby Trump: A Step Too Far?

by Alex Gibson

Perhaps somewhat ironically, Donald Trump arrives in Britain on Friday 13th and, naturally, there will be demonstrations and protests against his policies and dare I say, very existence. This is fine. This is what democracy and free speech (a topic hotly discussed on not only this blog but in society as a whole) should be about - scrutinising an official and letting it know that you disagree with them. However, my question here though is, are we overstepping the mark?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has permitted for a balloon depicting the US President as a baby to fly over Westminster on the opening day of his visit, with a statement on behalf of the mayor saying that he ‘supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms.’ According to those leading this ‘movement’, over 10,000 people supported this concept, with, at the time of writing, just under £28,000 had been raised via ‘crowdfunding’ to help pay for the inflatable, this seems to be a popular idea.

Through social media and other channels, many have come out in favour of this form of protesting, saying that it is not only comical, but necessary to protest against Trump. Personally, I feel as though this is absolutely right as I am all for free speech and peaceful protest, how can one not be with the controversy of such a president? However, I can’t help but feel apprehensive about this for two reasons. Firstly, one must hope that this does not damage the UK’s global reputation or even relationship with the US - our major ally. This is especially due to the climate post-Brexit where trade deals with those such as the US are vital and I would hate to see this seemingly harmless protest backfire with financial repercussions - you can’t rule anything out with Donald Trump! In addition to this, I cannot help but imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. For example, say the Queen visited America and was publicly ridiculed and mocked, would we, as Britons, not feel offended by such an act, however innocent it may seem? Now you may not value a ‘connection’ with another nation such as the USA, but for me, I would not want to risk that.

'Sing for Uganda': Fighting Malaria

by Thomas Locke

It was a night of entertainment and song, a celebration of international links between PGS and Kikaaya College School, Uganda. To raise money for Kikaaya, our Partners in Learning, Miss Nicholson put on the Sing for Uganda event at St George’s Church in Portsmouth. 

Both students of PGS and members of The Portsmouth Gospel Choir sang, creating a warm and joyous atmosphere. The event was a great success, raising over £700 for Kikaaya College School. I had the opportunity to speak with Miss Nicholson and Ingrid, a Gospel singer, about the evening and about where the money will be spent. This interview was shared on ‘Five Minutes’, a podcast series I manage as part of my work with Fight Malaria.

The interview can be accessed here: - or read below the break:

What PGS Teachers Will Be Reading this Summer: II

The summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading. 

Here, Mrs Bell, Mrs Burkinshaw and Mrs Kirby reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August. 

Mrs Bell

I really enjoyed reading Reservoir 13 in the Library bookclub, so I have ordered some more books by Jon McGregor: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin: he is a really remarkable writer. 
For light relief, I shall be reading some of my late dad’s Dorothy L. Sayers: exquisitely written and humorous detective thrillers starring Lord Peter Wimsey. 
Non-fiction reading will include Mary Beard’s Women and Power and an interesting text called Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty. Plenty to chew on there!

Mrs Burkinshaw

I love Caitlin Moran's writing, which is always engaging, lively and humorous. I am looking forward to reading her new novel, How to Be Famous. Set in the 1990s, at the height of 'Britpop', it is about a young woman trying to make her way in a pre-#MeToo, male-dominated world. 

I am also going to be reading This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay. The author is a former doctor, now turned comedian. I am fascinated by the world of medicine and, like many people, concerned about the stress that so many NHS staff are being placed under in this, the seventieth year of the NHS. Kay's book has been described as harrowing, hilarious and humane. 

What PGS Teachers Will Be Reading This Summer

The summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading. 

Here, Dr Purves, Mr Richardson and Mr Lemieux reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August. 

Dr Purves

I am planning on finishing reading The Explorer, and The Girl Savage, both by Katherine Rundell and both of which I have been reading to my daughter.  

I am also hoping to start/finish reading a number of the books I have had the very best intentions of reading during previous holidays, as well as one new purchase: Arnhem by Anthony Beevor.

Mr Richardson

As far as plans go, it’s more an interest in Muriel Spark: I plan to read as may as I can before September. Mandlebaum Gate and The Abbess of Crewe for sure, Memento Mori and Ballad of Peckham Rye probably, but definitely Complete Short Stories, if I can find, or Bang,Bang You’re Dead, which was a collection of short stories from the 1980s.

Possibly some Ian Rankin too: I found several on my shelves that I have no recollection of reading or indeed of ever seeing before.

And something else will crop up. Will browse through the library at school and see what catches my eye. 

Mr Lemieux