BBC News School Report 2018
Students from Watford Grammar School for Girls will be making the news for real on 15 March 2018 as they take part in BBC News School Report. We aim to publish the news by 1600 GMT on News Day, but before that you will see many fascinating and topical articles about what is happening locally and nationally.
Theatre Review by Tulsi Year 8
15th March 2018
Students from Watford Grammar School for Girls performed an amazing version of Arthur Miller’s play, ‘The Crucible’ on Wednesday and Friday at the beginning of March. It was a thrilling show and the actresses had great diction and embodied their characters well and with confidence. It was very entertaining and there wasn’t a dull moment.
‘The Crucible’ is set in Salem Town, USA, during the 17th century. It tells the story of the struggles for power through lies and manipulation. Arthur Miller wrote this in the 1960s when the “McCarthy witch hunts” were hunting communists in the US, and many who were accused lost jobs and their reputation.
This play was directed by Miss Frost, who was supported by Laura (Year 11) and they created an amazing play with great sound and light effects too. Also, the design, with its wooden and beige colour was a cleverly plain background for the stark black and whites of the cast’s 17th century costume. Lastly, the costumes complimented the backgrounds, for instance Abbie’s vibrant red skirt implied being a symbol of a ruler and a strong character.
Overall, I think this was an excellent play and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in the 17th century and oppressive politics.
Plastic Problem Micro Plastics found in bottled water
By BBC News School Reporter Zaara (year 8) Thursday 15th March 2018
It has been revealed that many hundreds and thousands of micro plastics have been found in plastic bottles.
An investigation by scientists released yesterday discovered that bottled water contains an average of 10 plastic particles per litre, each larger than the width of a human hair. Micro plastics are the result of the breakdown of plastics. The study found that a shocking 10.4 particles per litre can be found in many brands of plastic bottles and were 0.10mm or larger! It is still unclear what the effect is, but many scientists have said it is not healthy for animals or humans.
That’s on top of the recent backlash against disposable plastic water bottles, after revelations on the TV documentary Blue Planet that they are choking our oceans and sea-life.
From a survey at school, I found that 85% of students do use disposable plastic bottles, although some only when going on holiday or at school. I asked if they were aware that there were micro plastics in their plastic bottles. Most people had heard about it on news and others had heard about it from people around them.
So what are we doing to cut down our use of plastic in general? I interviewed some staff at Watford Girl Grammar School to ask how they reduce using plastic and if we should ban using plastic bottles. Miss Hart said, “I try and reduce how much plastic I use by keeping my own shopping bags at the back of my car. I have stopped using facial products with microbeads in them and try to use paper bags instead for my fruits and vegetables. In terms of banning disposable bottles, I think we shouldn’t but instead look at ways of reducing them because looking at the success of charging for plastic bags, I think we can make it.”
Mrs Lowe said “I buy my own bottles that are reusable and are not made of plastic. I also bring in my own little shopping bag from home which I carry around with me instead of buying plastic bags. Seeing how it has spread into the oceans I am shocked and therefore think we should ban plastic bottles.”
Overall, plastic has been a huge problem around the world and something needs to be done. We should all be thinking about what we can do to reduce our reliance on this substance that is strangling our planet – how about using a glass for your water next time you need a drink? It could be good for you and the environment.
What happened to Tennet Hall?
By Riva BBC News ReporterThursday 15th March 2018
Tennet Hall has been closed for renovation, and has had us eagerly anticipating what it’s going to be like after its refurbishment.
The existing Tennet Hall took approximately six months for refurbishment, and many other facilities have been added to the sleek new building. These include: changing rooms that open directly onto the playing fields, an enlarged common room, a substantial performance space, and a mini-café for the sixth formers, all in a beautifully interior designed Building.
What’s been the reaction around the school? Some say that they are ecstatic that there will be more space for sixth formers. The majority of the people I interviewed said that they believed Tennet hall is going to offer great opportunities to the students in our school. Mr Cowling said “There will be a much bigger sixth form social space, as well as the individual work area which will boost independent study for the girls, plus the Performance space for everyone to use.”
Poison of the Air
BBC School New Reporter Nina.
The UK car industry could be charged millions towards solving a toxic air crisis because of a ‘polluter pays’ principle announced by MPs today. Although pollution from vehicles has dropped since 2010, it is still a major issue to health today.
Annually 40,000 people are killed by pollution, causing what is described as a national health emergency. But how do people feel about this, and do they even realise? Having talked to multiple students of Watford Girls’ School, many have said they feel ‘terrible’ or ‘sad’.
But what can be done about this pollution crisis? Students have lots of practical suggestions.
‘We should stop using pollution producing fuels.’ Another student replied,’ Electric cars don’t give off pollution, so we should use them instead. Also, we should have no more than two cars per family.’
But when it came to paying more when it came to pollute less, some people weren’t so keen. The cheapest electric car costs around £18,500 and to charge that car it would cost £400 pounds per year. How would families feel to buy an electric car? Would they be able to afford it? Many students, after considering the numbers, say ‘it’s not worth it and if the government wants to stop pollution they should make them cheaper. They should also make charging electric cars free’. But a student argued ‘A new car costs about the same price and the fuel costs more per year than to charge an electric car. It’s worth saving some cash for.’
Our last question was: ‘Do you think the government is doing enough about his problem?’ Almost all students answered ‘no’, although some did say ‘it is being fixed somewhat and there is less pollution than there was.’ Yesterday’s inquiry suggests further measures, such as bringing forward the 2040 date by which conventional diesel and petrol cars will be banned from sales. It
So what will you do when you start driving?
Term Time Travel Tariffs – Are they fair?
By BBC News School Reporter Mia (year 8)
Thursday 15 March 2018
This morning, the BBC published a graph showing which areas of England and Wales are charging parents for their children’s unauthorised absence from school. Suffolk is the strictest authority. From 2014, parents in England and Wales have been fined around £24m for taking their children out of school. I interviewed local people to find their thoughts on this matter; is it really fair?
40% of those I interviewed had been on holiday during term time and thought it was acceptable to do so. The other 60% had mixed views: one student who hadn’t been on holiday during term time, said, “It is unreasonable because children are missing out on their education, but it is not so bad in primary school because it is easy for children to catch up.”
Others pointed out that expensive holiday prices during the school holidays mean hard up parents can’t afford family breaks unless they go in term time. “I think its fine because you get your holidays cheaper,” says another.
A variable that seemed to come up a lot is time. “One or two days is okay,” says someone who doesn’t feel taking time off is acceptable. “Children need a break from school with 5 days at school and only a two-day-weekend break.”
This brings up a new question – are weekends long enough?
Will our coppers be goners?
By BBC News School Reporter Katie (year 8)
Thursday 15 March 2018
This Tuesday, the Treasury announced that they were planning to scrap 1p and 2p coins, but after an uproar of complaints from the public, will this plan have to U-turn back in the other direction?
To many’s surprise, the future of 1p and 2p coins has officially been threatened! After some research, the Government found out that six in ten of the 1p and 2p coins in the UK are only used once before being put in a jar or tossed aside, and one in twelve of these coins are thrown in the bin!
But won’t we miss our heavy jars of old coins and bulging piggy banks? Well this is what many people were thinking whilst they joined the media campaign against the idea.
This isn’t the only reason against this though. Most charities rely on donations as their funding, which generally consists of volunteers with buckets asking for any spare change people have on them. Arcade games and tuck shops also rely on our old pennies.
However, only one day after this plan was announced, it has been scrapped! Downing Street said that the Government is no longer planning to get rid of our pennies.
In the past, others have come close to abolishing our coppers, so who truly knows when this plan will next arise, or if next time it will succeed?
Mental Health Awareness Week
By BBC School News Reporters Aishi and Karina
Thursday 15th March 2018
At WGGS, a student-led Mental Health Event is ready to launch on 19th March.
Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week here at Watford Girls Grammar School; an initiative run by the Sixth Form Prefects encouraging students from all years to learn more about how to stay mentally well, and taking care of themselves and friends.
This year, the theme of the week is ‘Maintaining Positive Mental Health – a Happy Mind, A Healthy Life’. The week will include fun and interactive drop-in-drop-out sessions, emailed to all pupils yesterday afternoon. These include: an Art Workshop where a huge collage will be made valuing who we are (Tues, Years 7-9); a Breakfast Chat exploring ways to boost self-esteem, and chatting about feelings (Wed, Open to all); and a special Debate Club meeting discussing the point ‘The increasing use of social media among children and young people will do more harm than it will do good’ (Thurs, Years 10-13).
After talking to Francesca (Sixth Form Prefect in charge of the event) and Miss Ferguson (Teacher organising Year 7 PACE) we came to know that this initiative has been carried out for a few years. They told us that it was essential to advertise the importance of Mental Awareness, as everyone goes through ill mental health at some point in their lives. Francesca explained that the week promotes self-maintenance, preventing issues arising in the future. The main sub-themes that she wanted to display are ‘Keeping Physically Fit’, ‘Connect with Others’, ‘Value Yourself’, and ‘Share your Emotions’, and these are present in the PACE sessions subject to Year 7s.
These Mental Health events have proved to be very successful and enjoyable for students at WGGS. Other student-led events like this include the Year 7 Mental Health PACE sessions and Peer Education Projects which the pupils have found very informative and fun.
A Year 7 student said that “The Sixth-Formers make our lessons interesting: they make them fun by giving out fun activities and booklets and overall make the lessons fun.” Another student said that learning about stigma and fake theories “helped because you can tell which things aren’t true and things you need to remember.”
Students unite to in vast walkout to end gun violence
By BBC News School Reporter Caitlin
Thursday 15 March 2018
Yesterday, all over the United States, pupils from approximately 3,000 schools stopped lessons for 17 minutes in memory of the 17 people who were killed in Parkland. The walkout happened exactly a month after the attack.
At around 10 o’clock in the eastern US, students flooded out of classrooms to running tracks, school fields and through car parks carrying signs with phrases such as “Enough is enough” and “Protect people not guns”. One even said, “I should be writing my college essay, not my will”. These walkouts also included moments of silence to remember the victims of the shootings.
Pupils from schools in Washington walked to the White House to try and attract the attention of authorities. Other students gathered at Capitol Hill where they were spoken to by House Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. “We’re all moved by your eloquence and your fearless insistence on action to prevent gun violence,” said Ms Pelosi. “Thank you for bringing you urgency to this fight, to the doorstep of America, the doorstep of the Capitol of the United States.”
Watford Girls students were asked about how they felt about students taking time off school to protest. One student said, “Definitely, they have to voice their opinions.” Another remarked “I think students shouldn’t take time of school because it disrupts their learning.”
All of the students asked thought that gun laws needed to be changed. In most states, citizens can buy a gun by the age of 18, with only patchy background checks. The American protesters find these laws outrageous and want them changed immediately.
The White House has proposed an action plan to fund programmes to train school staff to use firearms, to encourage military veterans and retired police officers to become teachers and to improve background and mental health checks.
Hawking Leaves a Black Hole in our Hearts
By BBC News School Reporter Anya (Year 8)
World-renowned Stephen Hawking has died peacefully age 76 at his home in Cambridge. He was a world famous theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.
Hawking had a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease that gradually paralysed him over the decades. He was diagnosed at age 21 and was told that he would not live past his twenties.
Stephen Hawking was dedicated to learning about black holes. Black holes are a singularity. They are a point in space where the gravitational field is so strong that not even light can escape, hence the name ‘Black holes’”.
In order to avoid human extinction, possibly due to a large asteroid hitting the Earth, Hawking believed that we should think about moving to other planets. Miss Smith, physics teacher at Watford Grammar School for Girls, had controversial opinions about this. “I think it’s a great idea if you want to avoid humans becoming extinct, but if we can’t look after our own planet, what gives us the right to move to and ruin others?”
“The theory of everything,” a movie inspired by Stephen Hawking, shows the struggles that he faced as a physician and as a result of his disability. A year 8 student who saw the movie, described it as “inspiring”, She also said that “it was interesting to see how he progressed as a physicist and especially with his disability”.
At Watford Girls, 45 sixth-formers are studying Physics at A level, or 11.25% of the whole sixth form. This is in comparison to the national average, of only 1.8 % of girls taking physics at A Level. One physics student said, “Physics is everything. Without it we would not be here, and that’s what makes the subject so inspirational.”
Could there be a new Cold War?
By BBC News School Reporter Ann
Thursday 15th March 2018
Newspapers fear that Theresa May’s expulsion of 23 diplomats from the UK, and Russia refusing to back down, will result in a second cold war.
Theresa May said that the diplomats were identified as “undeclared intelligence officers”. Russia said that they would strike back. The UK is now supported by the US: The Daily Mail wrote “the US decided to step in and vow to stand shoulder to shoulder with the UK”.
The reason why she decided to expel the 23 Russian diplomats was because of the suspicion that the Russians were involved in the Salisbury chemical attack on March 4th. Theresa May said that the chemical that was used in the attack was identified as being part of a group of nerve agents developed by Russia. The group was known as Novichok. Russia failed to meet the midnight deadline to provide an explanation for the origins of the substance, which was on Tuesday, 13th March.
Talking to some year 8’s they said that Theresa May was “unfair” and “harsh” for expelling the 23 diplomats. One student in particular said that she “understood her concern” but said that “Theresa May shouldn’t go ahead and sack them because of her suspicions”. Another student said that this “feud” between Russia and the UK was “Silly and childish and that they should get over it!” Overall, the Year 8’s said that there is a possibility of a new Cold War, it depends on how Russia was to “address the situation”.
‘The Crucible’ is Coming Soon
By BBC News School Reporter Tulsi (year 8)
Thursday 8 February 2018
Coming soon to Watford Grammar School for Girls' is their latest dramatic performance of the classic 1950s play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
The Crucible portrays the strong ideas of secrets, lies and prejudice. This play shows that one mistake can affect your life and could potentially lead to death.
It is set in 1692 and is about a man named John Proctor (played by Niamh, year 11) who has an affair with Abigail Williams (played by Helena, year 11) however, John is already married and loves his wife. Still madly in love with him, Abigail spins many lies to keep her explosive secrets. When these characters are questioned in court of witch craft, all their secrets begin to unravel and people show their true colours.
This play is performed mainly by Yr. 11’s and is directed by Ms Frost. Ellie – one of the cast - said “The crucible is a scary and intriguing play. It emphasises the acts of right and wrong and is challenging to perform". Mya said “it is extremely fun to act and rehearse and I feel it is a good experience. I love acting and drama and it is also a great way to meet new people. The Crucible is a great play and contains a lot of suspenseful scenes.” Also, Emily said, “It is nerve wracking as you know you haven’t got long to rehearse before the big show, but it is worth it in the end.”
Due to possible snowstorms, The Crucible is delayed a week but will be coming to Watford Grammar School for Girls on Wednesday 7th March and Friday 9th March 2018. It will be loved by all and will be a thrilling night. So book your tickets on Parentpay now and come and see “The Crucible”!
Changing the PACE
By BBC News School Reporters Anya and Caitlin (year 8)
Thursday 23 February 2018
Pupils at Watford Grammar School for Girls engaged in PACE with advice from knowledgeable sixth-formers for the first time.
Personal and Citizenship Education (PACE) sessions take place every Wednesday at Watford Girls, which is currently aiming to increase the students’ awareness about handling difficult situations. These sessions are normally led by form tutors and give students a chance to ask questions and express opinions about various topics. However, now the programme is also being led by sixth formers, which provides the chance for pupils to ask people who are closer to their age questions about issues or concerns that they may have.
A year 8 pupil, taking part in these sessions, said “It’s definitely reassuring that our school is prompting us to learn how to deal with situations that we are likely to encounter in the near and far future.” Deputy Head, Mrs Hart commented: “I think it’s a marvellous idea, the students can relate more to sixth formers and at the same time the sixth formers can experience taking on teaching young students.” Most of the year 8 students agreed, though some felt they were more comfortable with teachers leading these sessions, but understood that sixth formers needed a bit more experience on delivering these lessons.
At the moment, the girls are working on developing social skills and relationships, which prepares them for the future. They are also being educated about “A girl’s guide to growing up”, which ensures that they are confident about being who they are.
The sixth-formers volunteer to educate younger students in a wide range of different topics, such as, healthy eating, puberty, mental health and hygiene.
Bible Bake-off Winners Wow McDougall
By BBC News School Reporter Mia (year 8)
Thursday 23 February 2018
Look in Lady’s Close - in the form room of 7A - and you will see photos of sumptuous holy books. Year 7 were learning about different holy books in RS this February and RS teacher, Miss McDougall, decided what more fun way to learn than to include cake?
Year 7 were bursting with excitement when they were set the task of making Bible cakes for homework. They practiced looking up Biblical references and one of their tasks was to find the ingredient missing from a Bible cake reference they had been given. The girls were going to make a cake based on the recipe however a vote was cast and it was decided they would have a bible-themed cake competition rather than using the traditional ingredients.
In a traditional recipe, Bible cakes contain flour, yeast, milk, eggs, cream, fruit and figs - lots of them - however Year 7 baked a variety of cakes that were all very tasty.
The girls also decided to get very creative with their decorating skills, with Lily and Molly winning best decorated cake and Jemma winning best tasting cake, all from 7A. Well done girls! The girls really enjoyed the task and, unsurprisingly, "had a sugar rush at the end of the day," said Miss McDougall