Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Photography: Chateau de Chenonceau

by Oliver Stone, Head of Photography

Chateau de Chenonceau

Emma Watson: Role Model

by Anna Sykes

Emma Watson, now aged 24, was not only the youngest person to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine when she was 15 but, in addition, has two A’s and eight A* GCSEs under her belt and 3 As at A Level. Furthermore, she has designed a range of clothes for underprivileged children that benefited UNICEF and she recently graduated from Brown University, U.S.A. with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature.

On top of this she is a qualified yoga and meditation teacher and has now become UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and recently spoke at the UN Headquarters in New York City promoting this importance of gender equality and received a standing ovation. On top of all of this, of course, she is best known for her role of Hermione Granger in the notorious Harry Potter movies and she is now ‘valued’ at $60 million dollars-if this isn’t impressive enough, she managed to fulfill all this whilst being under constant scrutiny from the media since age 11.

During her recent speech at the UN meeting she spoke about how she was called “bossy” for wanting to direct a play in junior school and how this was unjust-I for one can empathize with this. 
Why should we be criticized as women for wanting to take the role of a leader? She says this “confused” her but now she has taken the initiative to understand why and discovered how incidents similar to and worse than this affected so many women worldwide. 

Therefore, she has taken it upon herself to become an ambassador for the HeForShe campaign; to call on men to speak up for oppressed women everywhere. This is one of the first campaigns we’ve seen where women actually ‘reach out’ rather than ‘oppose’ men to gain the rights to equality-she has taken this step and realized for herself that the only way to make a change is to work together, thus meaning that men not only understand women’s suffering but also to act with us women against it.

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Official Opening of the Sixth Form Centre

Tony Hicks and Jason Baker present images of today's official opening of the PGS Sixth Form Centre by HRH The Earl of Wessex

(image: Tony Hicks)
(image: Jason Baker)

(image: Jason Baker)

(image: Jason Baker)

(image: Jason Baker)

(image: Jason Baker)

(image: Jason Baker)

Hello, Sailor

A review of the Southsea Fest, 20th September 2014, by Sian Latham

100+ groups, 14 venues, 1 wristband and the slogan “Hello, Sailor”. Welcome to the Southsea Fest 2014.

The Southsea Fest, for a surprisingly reasonable price of £18 for entry into all gigs, provided an afternoon and night of fun, loud music and a chance to just forget about the stress of school, to just let your hair down. Beginning at 2:00 pm, the lucky ticket holder can party for hours on end, in multiple gigs and venues. Don’t like country? Fine, just respectively leave the venue and cruise on down the street until you find a band that gets your heart pumping. The free movement of the Fest was, in many ways, the selling point of the whole thing. There was no pressure, or expectation, to sit through a whole set if you didn’t want to. Only the quiet expectation that you cause as little disruption as possible on your way out, then just show the bouncer at the next venue your wristband and away you go.

As a female, festivals and large music events where alcohol and older people are present can cause discomfort or the feeling of being unsafe. Yet, as two females (as I attended with a mate) we never once felt threatened or unsafe during the entire event. Alcohol was not allowed to be taken onto the street from a venue and bouncers stood in every doorway: clear and definable. The crossing of roads was monitored and guided to prevent any traffic or collisions between drivers and partiers. The whole event came across as incredibly organised and safe for anyone of a reasonable age.

That said, however, the most crucial point of this review has to be the quality of music. Is it actually worth the money? 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Is Feminism For Men Too?

by Ciara Dossett

Emma Watsons recent speech on feminism at the UN headquarters in New York has attracted much attention in the media. She launched their new campaign HeforShe, inviting both men and women to conquer gender inequality. This made many question whether feminism is for men too and whether men are discriminated against also.

Feminism is defined as the advocacy of womens rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Although this seems like a perfectly logical belief, feminism has become a negative word in the media due to its connotations. Many people stereotypically believe feminists to be bra-burning, male hating, unattractive women. Many celebrities, such as Beyonce, have been forced to defend the F word in the media, showing how it is not to be afraid of.

Conversely, Joss Wheedon suggested at Make Equality Reality Week that we should rebrand feminist as genderist. Although this might seem ridiculous, not only does it lessen the prejudice against those who identify themselves as feminists but it also encompasses men in the issue of gender equality. Nonetheless Watson argues that the word describing gender equality is not important but its the idea and the ambition behind it.

In her speech Emma Watson presented us with the alarming fact that the highest killer of men aged between 20 and 49 is suicide. She argued that this suggested that men feel uncomfortable to identify themselves as weak or scared, as they believe it is not considered to be masculine.

Furthermore, it is not only women who are disrespected on social media. On Tumblr, on searching Men are you will discover that the top 3 results are stupid, pigs and idiots. Moreover men are arguably sexualised as well as women, with many asking why is it deemed acceptable for women to goggle at topless men but as soon as a man does the same to a women he is labelled as a sexist?

Although feminism has been a battle fought by women since the suffragettes surfaced, for several years groups of men have been lending a hand in the fight. The White Ribbon Campaign, a campaign urging men to stand up to other males disrespecting women, is a perfect example of men supporting feminism. Similarly Jason Katz, an anti-sexism educator, believes that men have an important role to play in feminism. He argues that We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them. Watson agreed with this statement in her speech by asking how can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited?, showing how she believed men should also be encouraged to support feminist issues. 

Poem for Sunday: 'The Mountain Beckons'

Cameron Manson's poem, 'The Mountain Beckons', was a finalist in the 2014 Leonardo Poetry Competition.

Treading onto the gondola,
It feels to me at this moment
It is just the mountains and I.
The hopeful sun is rising wearily,
Malevolent ice grinning deviously.

Looking out of the frosty suspended cabin,
Ice gradually creeps across the glass
Like a spider tracing its web,
Insulated and isolated from the natural noise,
My anticipation is intensifying.

A lone cloud drifts high,
Seemingly in time with our arrival.
I feel the snow's calming, cooling presence.
Deep and freshly fallen,
It swallows my fears.

Twisting and travelling through the trees,
Mountainous birds flirtatiously play,
Sounding their joys of freedom.
By this time the sun is blazing,
Enchanting the curious.

As silent as nature can possibly be,
The smell of pine and clean air
Overwhelms my nostalgic sense.
You are the Picasso, the snow a blank canvas,
To paint with whatever adventures you choose.

There will be dozens
Of places
That take your
Breath away -
But the one
That reminds you
To breathe
Is the place
You should stay.

A Case for Sherlock Holmes: 'Dead Girl'

by Saskia Egeland-Jensen

I was woken by the sound of a mug being dropped on a cold tile floor and a yell of pain. I snatched up my medical kit and sprinted down to the kitchen. The scene that greeted me was Sherlock Holmes in a chair nursing his foot. “What... huh…have… huh… you… huh… done?” I panted.

“I dropped a mug of hot coffee on my foot!” he told me slowly, obviously in shock. I had recovered control of my lungs by now and told him, “I am going to take a look at this. I want you to stay calm and quiet, and I will give you some sweet tea in a minute.” Gently I wiped away the coffee and blood to discover a rather deep cut surrounded by a ring of burns. I propped his foot up on another chair and applied pressure to stop the bleeding and put an ice pack on the burns. Then I bandaged his foot up. “I want you to stay sitting down with your foot up here, and I will be back in ten minutes.”

When I returned with a pair of crutches, Sherlock had an interesting tale to tell me. “I was sitting here wondering how to entertain myself, when I heard a knock on the door. I couldn’t get up of course, and no one else was home. I shouted to whoever it was to see if the door was unlocked, and miracle of miracles, you hadn’t locked it! Then a rather small, thin lady entered the kitchen. She had obviously been crying a lot. She told me that her name was Elsa Foxx and she had a mystery for me.”
When he had finished telling Elsa’s story, Sherlock and I both sat there understanding why this lady had been crying. After all, how can you carry on with life when your daughter has apparently committed suicide but you can see no reason for her to have done away with her own life? Sherlock broke the silence by saying, “Pass me those crutches, Watson, we’ve a train to catch.”

As we sat on the train to Fareham, I wondered what the scene would be where this girl had supposedly ‘done away with her life.’ Sherlock was obviously thinking the same as he muttered to himself, “Be prepared for all possibilities. We don’t know what to expect.” The operator announced that the next stop would be Fareham. Sherlock stood up and winced as he moved his foot. “Come on, Watson, we need to find a cab to the Foxx residence.”

The house where the Foxxes lived looked perfectly ordinary, aside from the fact that it had a bright yellow door that almost required sunglasses to look at. Holmes rapped the knocker twice and stepped back off the step. The door creaked open and taking up half of the doorway stood a toddler. “Hello! I is Matty!” shouted the boy.
“Well, hello there, young Matty. Is your mother around?” Sherlock, obviously slightly startled by this bundle of noise, asked.
“Yes she is. I go get her,” he replied, and ran off.

After a few minutes, a lady appeared. I could see what Sherlock had meant when he said she was small and thin. “Elsa, how lovely to see you again! Do you think we could come in? We are going to get to the bottom of your daughter’s death.” Sherlock warmly invited us in to the Foxx house. “Do you think we could see the room where…”
“Kazia,” Elsa whispered.
“Where Kazia died?”

We followed Elsa up a narrow spiral staircase, Sherlock struggling slightly with his crutches, to an attic room which appeared to have been Kazia’s bedroom. There was a body on the bed, a knife sticking out of its chest. A note lay next to the body. It read: I don’t deserve to live. “Wow, that is quite… ahem, unkind to a person,” I thought aloud. “Elsa, were there any signs that Kazia was having any difficulties in life at all?”
Elsa stared at the note and whispered, “Not as far as I know. She had a small row with Matty in the morning of that day, but that was over who got the last slice of toast, so not important.”
“Oh. Is there anyone who really didn’t like her?”
“No. Wait. Yes, yes there is someone. My husband hated her. He was always on at her that she needed to make more of herself. She would just tell him that she was perfectly happy the way she was. The day before her death, Max slapped Kazia in the face for no good reason. He shouted at her that next time it would be a whole lot worse.”
Sherlock swooped in with a question, “Do you have anything, apart from this note, that Kazia wrote?”
“Yes. I shall go and get a birthday card she gave me.” When she came back, Elsa handed me a piece of card with the words: Happy Birthday, Mother! Lots of love, Kazia.
“How recent is this?” Sherlock asked
“My birthday was a week ago.” Elsa told us.
“So her writing hasn’t changed since then?” he asked, suddenly interested.
“No. It hasn’t.” Elsa said, sounding confused as to why this was important.
“Did your husband give you a card last week?” Elsa nodded, “Could you get it for me please?”

As she walked away, Holmes turned to me. “I have a theory, Watson. And I’m hoping it’s correct.” At that moment, Elsa returned with another piece of card. The message was the same as Kazia’s card, except Mother was Wife, and Kazia was Max. Holmes took the card from Elsa, and held it next to the other one. “I see that their handwriting is rather different,” Sherlock commented. He then held Kazia’s card next to the note. “Aha! The writing is different!” Holmes then swapped Kazia’s card for Max’s. “Max’s handwriting is the same as the writing on this note!” He breathed. “Elsa, you mentioned that Max said: Next time it’ll be a whole lot worse. Do you think he would go so far as to actually kill her, and then pretend she killed herself?”
Elsa paused before whispering so quietly we could hardly hear her, “If he was drunk.”
Holmes asked her gently, “Was Max drunk that night?”
Elsa replied in the same almost inaudible voice, “Yes. He was. And he had his knife in his pocket.”
“From the handle of this knife used to kill Kazia, do you think its Max’s knife?” Sherlock asked.
Elsa whispered, “Yes,” before collapsing into my arms. I laid her gently on the floor, and checked her breathing and pulse. “She’s still alive. I think she only fainted.”
“Good. She will need to give evidence against Max in court.” Sherlock sighed. “I suppose we should send a telegram to the police requesting that they come down here and arrest Max when he comes home.” At this point, Elsa recovered. “What happened?”
“You fainted, no damage done,” I told her. “Do you know where Max has gone and when he will be back?”
“He went out to the shop to buy some more meat. He should be back quite soon.” As soon as Elsa finished speaking, there was a knock on the door, and a shout of, “Open up! It’s the police!” I flew down the steps and opened the door. “Are you Max Foxx?” asked the officer.
  “No. I am Doctor Watson, companion of Sherlock Holmes, who is at this point upstairs.” I showed the man upstairs to where Elsa and Sherlock were.

Sherlock shook the man’s hand and greeted him, “I am Sherlock Holmes, detective. Who are you?”
“I am Officer Partree.” he told us. To Elsa he said, “I am guessing you are Elsa Foxx, wife of Max Foxx, and mother of the late Kazia Foxx,” he said, gesturing to the body on the bed as he said the last four words. At that moment, the front door slammed open, and then slammed closed. We heard a cry of, “Daddy!” from Matty, and then Max shouted, “Elsa, where are you?” Elsa went pale.
“What should I say?” she whispered to the officer.
“Don’t fret, love, just tell him you’re up here and you have some people to see him,” Officer Partree told Elsa calmly.
Still looking pale, Elsa called down, “I’m in Kazia’s room. There are some people here who need to talk to you.”
“I’m coming up to talk to whoever it is.”

Saturday, 27 September 2014

PGS: A German Perspective

by Miriam Hagebock and Lena Barz, from Anne Frank Gymnasium, who are currently spending four weeks visiting PGS as part of a cultural exchange between the two schools, explain some of the key differences between schooling in England and in Germany. 

Wenn wir auf unseren ersten Schultag an der Portsmouth Grammar School zurueck blicken, wurden wir mit vielen neuen Dingen konfrontriert.

In Schuluniform zur Schule zu gehen und Zeit in einer Tutor Gruppe zu verbringen sind Sachen die wir in Deutschland nicht haben, wo die Schule um 13.20 Uhr endet.

Auch die langen Schultage, die kurzen Stunden, Games am Nachmittag und Schulessen, sind Erfahrungen die wir hier gemacht haben.

Unser Schultag fing mit der Tutor Zeit an, was wir gut fanden, weil wir sowas vorher nicht hatten und wir Zeit mit Leuten verbringen konnten, die wir getroffen haben.

Letztendlich wuerden wir sagen, dass es eine tolle Erfahrung war, die uns die Moeglichkeit gegeben hat selbstbewusster zu werden und unser Englisch zu verbessern.

Wir hatten die Chance neue Leute zu treffen und neue Plaetze zu sehen, wofuer wir sehr dankbar sind. Zeit an so einer grossen Schule wie PGS zu verbringen wird uns in Erinnerung bleiben.

(see English translation, below the break)

Friday, 26 September 2014

#HeforShe: A Turning Point For Gender Equality

by Hattie Hammans 

'Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.’

(source: Wiki Commons)

You may have noticed Emma Watson causing a global impact last Saturday. Her video has spread across the internet, with loud reactions from Twitter and Facebook- initially congratulations from men and women alike, and then soured by a fake scandal printed across British newspapers.

The actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador took her chance to speak out about feminism, combining combating assumptions about man-hating and inviting men to join the HeforShe campaign.

‘I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.’

Emotional yet remaining in control, the Harry Potter star commanded the room and this seems to be a turning point within feminism - it was even hinted that there may be a new title for the movement, something more ‘uniting’ to encompass equality for both men and women.

However, the threat to release of Watson’s private photos followed soon after, seeking to put the actress ‘back in her place’. Although proved fake almost instantly, the threat displays a very real attitude and a deep issue within feminism: a women shouting out for herself caused someone attempting to humiliate her.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Review: Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens!

by Charlie Albuery

In a dive bar somewhere deep in the belly of Edinburgh at around half eleven at night, I may have expected to happen across many things, the best theatrical experience of my life was not one of them. Never have I been so wrong….

This was what I can only truly describe as something akin to Rocky Horror’s guide to the galaxy; it was Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens.

Allow to me explain: Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is a cult science-fiction musical reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Show, with more immersive elements. The story revolves around a cabaret club called ‘Saucy Jack's’, in which each of the performers become the victims of a brutal serial killer as they try to leave for better things elsewhere. This sets the stage for the Space Vixens, all-female intergalactic police who gain their power from their belief in the power of disco and exuberantly glittered boots (it’s mental, I know), to infiltrate Saucy Jack’s and investigate these murders. The soundtrack melds pure 80s disco with elements of classic musical, theatre scores and a dabbling of jazz, an eclectic combination that had every member of the audience up and dancing by the end (when they’re openly encouraged to by the actors).

Despite its bizarre nature, the play has drawn some legitimate talent and seen genuine financial success over the years. There was a successful, although short-lived, West End run in 2006 starring Faye Tozer and choreographed by Bruno Tonioli.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Preview: The Endless River by Pink Floyd

by Marley Andrews

Last night, my social media feeds were full with people talking about one thing. After more than two decades, Pink Floyd are launching a new album.

Entitled The Endless River, the album is a touching tribute to Rick Wright, their late keyboardist who sadly passed away in 2008. It consists of (previously) uncompleted instrumental tracks re-mastered and edited to give them a more ‘twenty-first century’ sound, with one track entitled “Louder Than Words” featuring lyrics written by guitarist David Gilmour’s wife.  Having grown up listening to Pink Floyd, and fallen in love with the psychedelic instrumentals of 1973 release The Dark Side of the Moon when I was young, I was really excited to see that a new album is on its way, especially as a tribute to the work of an incredibly talented pianist. As with a lot of Pink Floyd’s repertoire, vocals in the new album are limited which allows the music and sheer talent of the band to speak for itself without relying on a vocal line, and I am sure that this record will be no exception. 

To coincide with the album launch last night, various murals featuring the new album art were placed throughout various cities worldwide, including London, Paris and New York. The album cover, designed by Egyptian artist Ahmed Emad Eldin consists of a young man in open shirt punting across a sea of clouds towards the glow of the sun, and very aptly fits with the album title itself. Of course, Pink Floyd are known for their iconic album covers (most notably The Dark Side of the Moon), most of which were designed by the late Storm Thorgerson, but after his death last year, the band were left with the task of finding another artist who had the ability of continuing the band’s visual legacy. The cover itself is particularly striking and moving, and, as of last night, is shining down on billboards in many of the main global cities to make it very clear that Pink Floyd are indeed back.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Brunel Science Lecture: “Eat More Fish”

by Catriona Ellis

Professor John Stein, a prestigious neuroscientist and professor of physiology at Oxford University visited PGS on 15th September to give the annual Brunel Science Lecture. Particularly Professor Stein spoke about the link between Omega-3 intake and dyslexia in children, saying “The more Omega-3 they consume, the higher the educational achievement.”

Catriona Ellis: Firstly, when did you become interested in neuroscience?
Professor Stein: I was sixteen at school, I was going to do physics and engineering, then I decided I wanted to know more about the brain. I thought it would be possible to study the brain a bit like an engineering problem and so I decided to do biology.

CE: For those people who want to study neurology or the sciences at university, what work experience would you recommend?
JS: If you want to do neuroscience as a doctor, which is what most people do, (then later specialize in psychiatry or neurology,) you need to get attachments to local GPs or hospitals because, as an admissions tutor for medicine, what we’re always looking out for is whether or not (the candidate) really understands what medicine is about. If you want to do neuroscience as a subject independent from medicine, the best thing to do is get involved in a lab. Usually it’s a university lab but it’s equally good to get involved in a pharmaceutical lab.

CE: Regarding your work with dyslexia, is there a difference between taking Omega-3 as a supplement or as fresh fish?
JS: Fresh fish is better in lots of ways because fish packages not just the Omega-3 but also iodine, zinc, vitamin D and Vitamin A. These are the things that modern diets are lacking in, but supplements are the next best thing.

CE: Where do you see your research into dyslexia going? Would you like Omega-3 to be given out a break time as a state funded campaign?
JS: I would certainly like to see that for children who are not eating enough fish. It’s terribly important because during our evolution we grew up close to the sea so the majority of our very primitive diet was fish and shellfish. What that enabled was our brains to incorporate these Omega-3’s patterns, which happen to be exactly the right length and charge profile to form ideal membranes that can set up the ionic gradients and the charge profile across the membrane.

CE: Finally, what developments can we look forward to in neurology in the future?
JS: Mental health accounts for a greater expenditure by the NHS than cardiovascular disease and cancer combined, so the great challenge of neurology and neuropsychiatry is to solve mental health issues, including Alzheimer’s disease.

CE: Do you think we could be on the brink of curing Alzheimer’s?

Kikaaya College School: A Message to PGS from Doreen Nalwoga

by Jeremy Thomas

Doreen Nalwoga, Head Girl of Kikaaya College School
One of the greatest privileges of visiting our partner school, Kikaaya College School in Bulenga, Uganda, was to meet such inspiring pupils with fantastic talents and amazing aspirations for their futures and that of their country. The person who epitomises this optimism and belief in a bright future more than anyone is Doreen Nalwoga, the Head Girl at the school. She is a warm, affectionate and generous person with an unswerving belief in her own ability to do anything she sets her mind to. With both parents sadly dead, she has been brought up by her grandparents who are, fortunately, able to pay the KCS school fees of £130 per annum.  As an aspiring journalist, Doreen was very keen to contribute to the Portsmouth Point blog and has written this inspirational piece for us:

Kikaaya College and Vocational School, Bulenga (Uganda)
Beauty! Beauty! Beauty!
Kikaaya College and Vocational School!
It is such a good and wonderful school, with such well trained teachers with a lot of experience. It also enables its students to interact with such great schools, for example THE PORTSMOUTH GRAMMAR SCHOOL.
Oh! I love my school because it gives me all the knowledge I need in all aspects and it always makes me feel so special from students from other schools. It does not only give me theory but also gives and teaches me skills at the Vocational School, Bulenga.
This helps and enables many generations to become great thinkers and job creators, rather than being job seekers.

Uganda Has Much To Teach Us

by Caleb Barron

(source: worldatlas.com)
Uganda is the second most populous land-locked country in the world. It’s situated in the middle of Africa (slightly left of centre) and borders Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda etc. It also holds a fair portion of Lake Victoria and the suggested official source of the Nile. From the early 1800s until 1962 Uganda was a British colony. After becoming independent the country was thrown into chaos until 1986 when the current president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni took power in a coup.

The President of Uganda is both the head of state and head of government and appoints a Vice President (currently Edward Ssekandi) and a Prime Minister (currently Ruhakana Rugunda). Parliament is formed by the National Assembly consisting of 322 members, 104 of which are nominated by interest groups (women, the army) and the rest are voted for 5 year-terms during general elections. The current system of government has kept the country quite stable; however it is considered extremely corrupt and many countries have threatened to pull out of continuing with aid donations if the government is not more transparent and the controversial anti-gay bills aren’t addressed. It is estimated that $286 million is lost annually to corruption and in June 2014 two piglets were smuggled into parliament as protest.

Today, although the more developed part of the country is more at peace, in the north of Uganda there is often conflict. Much of this is caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. There are also attacks on people’s political freedom including the arresting and assaulting of many political oppositionists. This caused part of the British aid to be shut off. All this means that an estimated 1.4 million people are internally displaced each year. There is also much child labour generally in the agricultural sector and a lot of child trafficking takes place. Torture is a big problem in Uganda and between January and September an estimated 792 torture killings took place.

In January 2014 an extremely controversial and disputed bill was passed making homosexuality illegal (death sentence given to homosexuals). This caused uproar all over the world. The bill included suggestions that homosexuals were trying to recruit Ugandan children. Ugandan publications published gay lists encouraging the harming of those on the list and David Kato, a gay rights activist, was murdered in January 2011. Gays and lesbians are missing believed to be dead.

After decades of war Uganda’s economy is on an upward trend. In 2008, despite worldwide economic crisis and local conflict, Uganda recorded a 7% economic growth. Much of the money is generated through exports such as coffee, tea and fish. The country, having pulled itself out of a violent regime led by Idi Amin, reduced inflation quickly with the help of other countries. In 1987 inflation ran at 240%, by 1992 this had lessened to 42% and 2003 it was recorded as 5.1%.

Visit to Kikaaya College School, Uganda - Summer, 2014

Next week, staff and pupils who took part in the Summer 2014 trip to Kikaaya College School, Uganda, will be presenting accounts of their visit in a variety of school assemblies. Here, Jeremy Thomas shares images from the visit.

Kikaaya pupils welcome PGS to their school in traditional fashion

Kikaaya College School, Bulenga, Uganda

Dancing together at Kikaaya

Teaching Geography at Kikaaya

Inspirational pupils at Kikayaa College School

Monday, 22 September 2014

Welcome, New Sixth Formers !!!

by Henry Ling and Kelvin Shiu

It has been a good start to the new academic year, and we have been delighted to receive many new people into our Sixth Form. So we went out to try and get a better understanding of these new people and where their roots lie. We asked a group of them a few questions about what school they used to go to, why they came to our school and what kind of interests they have.

Lawrence Broad
Comes from a school in Dubai; however, he wished to come to PGS because the school seemed nice and the teachers very good. He is studying Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Technology. His interests lie in flying model planes and gliders, as well as surfing.

Hannah Campbell
She previously came from Churchers College. She wanted to come to PGS for Sixth Form because she really likes the Science departments and facilities. She is taking Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Spanish, with hobbies including singing, kayaking and learning Mandarin.

Tom Cleary
He comes from Christ’s Hospital, yet has now returned to PGS, where he used to be a student (pupils will remember him from a few years ago). He is studying Maths, with Further Maths to AS, Chemistry, Physics and Electronics. His hobbies include, music, squash, tennis, fencing and long distance running.

Finley Cookson
He previously studied at Mayfield and was awarded an academic scholarship. He is studying Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. One of his hobbies is playing the drums.

Harrison Edwards
Comes to us from Mayville High. He wanted to come here for the Sixth Form because he thinks PGS is “amazing”. He studies Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Geology. And his hobbies include archery and drawing.

Meljude Fajardo
Is a girl from Portsmouth Academy for Girls. She likes the atmosphere at PGS, so decided to come here. She is studying the IB diploma, taking Higher Level: Spanish, Biology and Chemistry, with Standard Level: English, Maths and Philosophy. Her hobbies include music and camping.

Maddison Gould
She comes from Hampshire Collegiate School. She is now at PGS because her sister came here and enjoyed her time at PGS. She likes the facilities here and studies Art, Electronics, Physics and Maths, with strong interests in art and horse riding beyond the classroom.

Miles Hughes
Previously went to Bishop Luffa. He came to PGS because of the opportunities available in the Sixth Form. He is studying Maths, Chemistry, Biology and History. He also has a keen interest in both tennis and golf.

Alice Kellam
She used to go to Priory. She has come to PGS because she likes the facilities that we offer in the Sixth Form. She studies Biology, Chemistry, Maths and French, with hobbies that include the flute and horse riding.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Tribute to Lieutenant Norman Holbrook VC (and OP)

by Tony Hicks

Here are some pictures from the unveiling of the plaque to Lieutenant Norman Holbrook (OP), winner of the Victoria Cross in December 1914, which took place yesterday at the Upper Junior School site. It was a very good day and a great turn out. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Poem for Friday: 'A Mountain in Wales'

Imogen Schaal's poem, 'A Mountain in Wales', was a finalist in the 2014 Leonardo Poetry Competition.

Drown down sore eyes,
Mud pits, weather's wit
Legs we're dragging,
Bags we're hauling,
White is seeping
All around us, all around us.
Keep on trudging
Don't keep stopping,
Hail is stabbing
In our eyes,
Down our necks,
In our mouths,
All around us, all around us.
The day is dawning,
Night is falling,
Sight is lacking,
Light deceives us,
Shadows changing,
Sharp slippy rocks prevailing,
Cold impaling
All around us, all around us.
Back again,
Around a bend
Hold strong,
Don't slip,
Weather's wit,
In a cloud,
White is seeping,
All around us, all around us.
Keep on climbing,
Keep on trekking,
Don't fall behind,
Your life's depending.

Photography: Images of Mallorca, Summer 2014

by Will Hall


Mallorcan street

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Not Just “A Child Dancing”: The Presentation of Down’s Syndrome In Recent Media Stories

by Laura Burden

It shouldn’t be surprising that there were three news stories featuring people who have Down’s syndrome during the summer. It is, after all, one of the most common disabilities, occurring at the rate of one per 1,000 births globally. It is even less surprising that the features concentrated upon the young.

One heart-warming story was of the actor Daniel Laurie becoming the first person with Down’s syndrome to be accepted for the summer course for the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Acting is an area in which those with the condition have traditionally met with success: a glance at Wikipedia’s page “Notable Individuals with Down Syndrome” (sic) suggests that many have enjoyed positive careers in theatre. Daniel Laurie, a teenager, interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live on 9th August. He was articulate, funny, and evidently excited about his achievement.

The second story is a sad one and it provoked international outrage. A Thai mother reported that she had entered into a surrogacy arrangement with an Australian couple and had given birth to twins – one healthy girl and one boy with Down’s syndrome and an attendant heart condition. She claimed that the Australian couple had abandoned their disabled child and that she would struggle to care for the little boy, who she had named Gammy. Within a week, an online fundraising campaign titled “Hope for Gammy” had raised £88,000. The biological parents made counter (and, at times, contradictory) claims that their surrogate had threatened to abort both children and had wanted to keep the male child, but the revelation that Gammy’s natural father had prior convictions for sexual offences against children did little to strengthen their case. The story subsided from global media attention with the Australian government moving towards banning international surrogacy: Gammy, a classically adorable baby with blue eyes, presumably remains in Thailand.

And where would we be without Richard Dawkins to reduce every moral issue to 140 characters? A twitter user, InYourFaceNewYorker, tweeted, “I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down syndrome. Real ethical dilemma.” Dawkins’ response was swift and succinct: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” In the ensuing furore, which evangelical Christians, disability rights activists, and trolls happily pitched into, a few themes emerged from the online postings. One was that Dawkins is a figure who provokes strong responses, with several posters hysterically equating atheism with neo-Nazi eugenics. The second is that few engaged with the idea of a Down’s syndrome foetus as a person – all references were to a child. A user of The Guardian website, darkflowering, ended her post with the following comment:  “A child dancing, whatever their genetic vulnerabilities, is closer to life and its meaning than an aging scientific arrogance that condemns the very source of their intellect, the body, to an inferior place in the scheme of things.”

For me, the key consideration is the final word of Dawkins’ original tweet: choice. Abortion always involves a choice and I am a firm supporter of a woman’s right to choose. Even the Down’s Syndrome Association, the UK’s premier charity that supports those with the condition, takes great care to promote the truth that those with Down’s syndrome can lead a “full life” but acknowledges that each family must make its own decision. Many, of course, view abortion as being wrong in all circumstances. In my view, the choice to abort a foetus with Down’s syndrome can, indeed, be a moral one. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Will Independence Bring Economic Benefits to Scotland?

by Beth Schofield

How long will the oil last?
If Scotland chooses independence tomorrow, it will inevitably have a significant impact on both the UK and Scottish economies. In deciding whether it will bring economic benefit to the Scottish people, both the short term and long term consequences should be considered.
Revenue is the income generated from the sale of goods and services before any costs or expenses are deducted to leave profit. Oil taken from the North Sea has provided the UK revenue to contribute towards public spending since the 1970s, but if Scotland becomes independent, it will be able to keep 90% of the revenue to help improve its balance of payments. However, although up to 24 billion barrels of gas and oil may still be left, the remainder is becoming increasingly harder to extract even with improvement in technology. With the oil revenue down a quarter last year and predicted to fall constantly into the future, the only consolation would come if oil prices rose more dramatically over the next few years. So in the long term, the increased share of oil profits is not a valid economic income as extraction costs increase, although the benefits it might produce would be equally distributed across the whole economy.

A benefit of independence would be that politicians could tailor new laws and policies to better fit Scotland’s specific needs without the restraint of them being valid for the rest of the UK. Despite this, some argue that the current union still allow Scotland a significant amount of control over the country, such as with its unique education spending. Also, being part of a union allows it to benefit from the stability of trading and banking on a larger scale, and allows all of the nations to better compete with the huge economies like those of China and the US. Therefore, although tailoring their own policies could increase their efficiency and possibly improve the welfare of Scottish people, I feel these benefits are outweighed by the fact that it would hugely decrease the size and power of both the economies.
In addition to this, fewer new businesses are being created in Scotland on average than in the rest of the UK, possibly due to the significant influence over jobs that large nationalised companies had over Scotland after it struggled to adapt after the decline of the UK’s manufacturing industry. Another point to consider is that Scotland will have less money ‘in the pot’ to invest, and might find borrowing for hard as their new economy has no independent history to prove their reliability to pay back debts. However, Scottish people may feel more ambitious and aspirational with independence and the country is renowned for investment into infrastructure and other long-term aggregate supply increasing projects, possibly reassuring potential lenders. This benefit, although long term, is definitely not guaranteed, and contrasted by the fact that Scotland still spends a lot more money than it has coming in, so its budget and inegibility to borrow could be significant issues it would have to find solutions to.

Barclays Premier League: The Season So Far.

by Will Pearson

Diego Costa
The Barclays Premier League is the most watched, supported and well-known league in world football. It is broadcasted in 212 territories around the globe, working with 80 different broadcasters. The TV audience for Premier League games is 4.7bn, and the number of homes reached last season increased 11 per cent to 643m. In total, the League clocked up 185,000 hours of TV coverage in 2010/11, an increase of 65 per cent on the previous campaign. With this level of support, players are expected to put on a real show, and the start of each season is dripping with anticipation and expectation.

This summer saw the busiest transfer window in BPL history, with a record transfer fee payed for Angel Di Maria, a jaw-dropping £59.7 million, as Manchester United look to overcome the shame of last season’s seventh place finish. Other notable transfers include Spanish striker Diego Costa to Chelsea, and controversial Italian Mario Balotelli to Liverpool. With big names like these gracing the BPL stage, it came as no surprise that the season got off to one of the most exciting starts to date.

All eyes were on Manchester United, as they kicked off the season at home against Swansea. Fans thought that under a manager of Louis Van Gaal’s experience and achievements, they would instantly regain the dominance they once showed under Sir Alex Ferguson. However, goals from Ki and Sigurðsson quelled the optimists, and United walked away with a 2-1 defeat, at home. Thinking it was simply an adjusting match, and after a strong pre-season, it came as an even bigger shock when United only managed a draw against both Sunderland and newly promoted Burnley, in the following weeks. It seems that the dip in form for the league’s most decorated team is not yet over.

Liverpool entered the season on the back of an exceptional second place finish in 2013/14. Having lost star player Luis Suarez to Barcelona over the summer, few pundits are predicting similar heights this time around, and the Reds have a point to prove in the BPL, and in their return to the Champions League. The acquisition of Mario Balotelli for the bargain price of £16 million seems to have paid off, after an exceptional performance from the young Italian in Liverpool’s 3-0 battering of Spurs. Raheem Sterling, however, has been their stand out player. 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games speak volumes about the 19 year-old’s talent. Daniel Sturridge is yet to find the form of last season, and an injury during international duty has put him out of manager Brendan Rodgers’ plans for the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lauren Bacall: A True Legend

by Emma Bell

Betty Joan Perske was born in the Bronx in 1924, an area as tough as the lady she became: Lauren ‘Betty’ Bacall. Born into a family of Russian/Romanian Jewish immigrants, it was clear in the early life of young Betty, that toughness and drive were the only routes to success. As the only child of parents strapped for cash she had needed to have these qualities in order to haul herself out of the grime of New York into a dazzling career in Hollywood.
By the time she was 17, the ambitious Betty was already attending theatre school (with Kirk Douglas as a classmate) and modelling in her spare time.

Her movie career began when the wife of Howard Hawks (a well-established director) saw the young Betty on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar and, in true Hollywood fashion, had her brought out to Hollywood for a screen test, changed her name, taught her how to speak and walk and dress: an opportunity which led to instant fame and fortune in her first movie, To Have and Have Not. The film contained one of the icon’s most famous phrases when she asked Bogart: “You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together ... and blow.”

So frightened was she of working with established star Humphrey Bogart, that she cast her chin down to stop it trembling, brought her eyes up, and immediately created one of Hollywood’s most sultry and iconic ‘looks’. Her career rocketed along with her relationship with Bogie (whom she married when she was just 21) As a woman she holds all the cards,” Bogart told journalist Donald Zec.

Together they worked on The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, Key Largo, and a television version of The Petrified Forest. She became associated with film noir, not least due to her ambivalent, enigmatic and powerful charisma.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The YES Campaign: Plot for the Next Series of 'House of Cards'?

by William Dry

House of Cards' Frank Underwood
The Yes campaign is not a fresh bowl of fruit tarnished by a few bad apples; it’s a black hole scattered with the occasional shining light. While it has been well funded and presents impressive arguments, some of its most important arguments are built on foundations of lies; many of its supporters are unnecessarily intimidating and, if the North Koreans weren’t opposed to the concept of media, their best tacticians would have them broadcast the behaviour of the SNP as an advert for the failings of democracy.

As an aperitif, an example of the efficiency of the Independence campaign: the dominance of the Yes campaign on social media. Despite the No campaign having generally more support in the polls, across the tenure of the campaign, it has had nearly 30% fwer “likes” on Facebook. Admittedly this could be because the Yes campaign has a high proportion of 18-24 year olds among its supporters, and this is also the type of demographic that has the greatest presence on social media. However, it could also be vice versa: the online propaganda made the users of Facebook and Twitter more inclined to support Scottish independence.

A reason touted as responsible for the Yes campaign’s recent resurgence in the polls is its focus on positive and emotional campaigning techniques. While a definite weakness of the No campaign is its lack of energy and enthusiasm for the future of the union, mainly focusing on the problems Scotland will face if it chooses to go alone, it is hard to argue that the Yes campaign was actually any better. A disproportionately large chunk of the independence campaign has been centred on the here and now, focusing on releasing Scotland from the evil chains of Westminster, and, in particular, the Tories. In Salmond’s press conferences recently, he has dismissed the efforts of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Ed Miliband - a group he dubbed ‘Team Westminster’. He also criticised the BBC and the Treasury for being biased. It cannot be a good idea to abolish a union which has been successful for the past 300 years just because there are some minor issues at the present.  

Another grubby achievement of Salmond’s is that he managed to set the rules for the referendum. He set the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?” rather than a possibly more accurate question “Should Scotland leave the United Kingdom?” He also pushed for 16 year olds to have the vote, on the basis that it is their future that will be deeply affected by the referendum – a fair argument, in principle. However, the success of a decision made by a referendum is normally determined by how well informed the voters are, and, while admiring the concept of 16 year olds determining their own future, you have to question whether 16 year olds have the political maturity to make a rational decision, especially considering how many lies are allowed to infect the debate.

Another criticism of Salmond’s referendum rules was that Scottish people living in the UK were not allowed to vote. Obviously, Scots who have moved to the United Kingdom would be much more likely to vote No, so it is an apt political move from Salmond. However, one of the most chilling things about this debate was how these rules were agreed to by Westminster - the fact these rules were quite clearly tilted in favour of Yes indicates a level of naïve complacency on Westminster’s behalf: something they may live to regret.