Tag Archive: school

The Life Story of a Pound Coin

In these unusual times of virtual teaching, I decided to challenge my Year 7 class to a bit of creative writing.  We have been studying education in class, and they have already read some sections of Roald Dahl’s wonderful autobiography ‘Boy’.  In one of these sections, Dahl mentions that he was writing an essay entitled, ‘The Life Story of a Penny’. I thought this was a really interesting idea, and assigned my students the task of writing ‘The Life Story of a Pound Coin’.  Here are the best two stories I have read so far.

Ms Sarah Cox, teacher of English



I felt myself being compressed between others of my kind in a sort of wallet thing made of leather that the two legged creature had put me in. Oh how dark it was inside that wallet and oh how claustrophobic! I hated it. 


Suddenly we were thrown down and in a gap in the creature’s wallet I saw that we were in a moving creature’s body! I was terrified, I thought that the two legged creature had fed us to a four legged creature. 


After a while I began to realize that the four legged creature wasn’t hurting me and that I had a little time to explain who I am. Well my name is Pound and I live everywhere. I move houses pretty much each day sometimes every other day if I’m lucky. Most of my life has been moving houses. My best friend has the same name as me and so does my mum. Isn’t that funny! We are all called Pound; except for my dad he’s called Two Pounds and he is a lot bigger than us and is worth a lot more to me than my mum. My dad, who is fighting against the American dollar, keeps saying that pounds are losing strength to fight and the dollar is gaining strength fast. 


Anyway, a couple of years ago I did a terrible thing… I nearly choked someone!  I really truly didn’t mean to. It wasn’t my fault really! It was the screaming little creature’s fault and everyone kept saying before I almost choked the thing what a cute baby it was! (That must be the creature’s name!) It happened when we were all in a loud noisy place where the two legged people were running around serving people food while my owners were sitting lazing around and talking to each other. After the meal the creatures brought us out to pay for their food and the baby put its hand in the wallet and put me in its mouth! EWWWWW! I was totally grossed out! Then I got stuck and the baby cried out in pain. Trying to dislodge myself from the baby’s throat, I managed to get loose and felt myself coming to the opening in the mouth. I couldn’t wait to be out of this mess. Finally, when I broke the surface I was thrown onto the counter and there is where I leave you, as moving house is quite a business. 



The constant sound of machinery was unbearable:; most different to what most things witness in their welcoming to the world. The smell of polish and copper was overwhelming and the clanking and crashing of motors was the only sound filling this humongous, shadowy room. As I looked around, tens of thousands of things, which looked just like me, were being handled and polished by gloomy workers who looked like they might drown in a pool of misery. I was too occupied looking around that I hardly noticed that I was moving at all; given the sound of the, what seemed never-ending, convayabelt, I have to admit that I was rather surprised to find out that I was about to be loaded into a van and be transported to a bank. As I got nearer to the convayabelt, the sounds of the metal coins crescendoed immensely and was most certainly deafening. Before I knew it, I was falling into a pool of shiny coins and as I hit the rest of the pounds, all I could see was black nothingness.


I woke up and thought I was still dreaming; the only thing in sight was gold and silver, surrounding me in every direction. As my senses got into place, I once again realised that I was moving except one thing was different- I don’t know where it’s moving me to and I didn’t think I was going to find out any time soon either. We were moving for what seemed like hours; as the unseen but heard cars went by, so did the time until we came to a sudden halt. I could hear the engine turn off and the van door opening and slamming back shut again. Footsteps came nearer to the back of the van where I was and before I knew it, I was being lifted up and carried into a huge building- though not quite as big as the factory. 


As I was carried in, I noticed that on the front of the building was a sign with the words “ Lloyds Bank” written across it. As we entered the building, people in smart uniforms were handling money to what looked like just ordinary people. As I stared round I could see that most of the money looked like paper; to me this seemed oddly peculiar as I had only seen money like myself before. Then a sudden thought came to me- could this be my purpose? To be handed out to local residents and be traded off for goods. I suppose it was. I was loaded into a cash register behind a glass window and a flap closed over the small glimpse of light which was the only evidence that my whole life wasn’t going to be dark. What felt like around fifteen minutes later, the flap opened once more and a gloved hand reached into the place where I was and scooped me up. Next minute I was being counted and then a few seconds later, handed to a random person. 


2 days later…


After a long time of being in the dark, a blinding light came reaching towards me. Someone was once again handling me. As I came to my senses , I realised where I was going:; back into a cash register. What felt like days went by with me stuck in this enclosed space with nothing to do or look at, then, all of a sudden, I was being lifted out of this dark hole and being handed to a little girl. As I left the shop door, she was throwing me up and down and up and down until… I felt myself falling. I hoped I was going to land on the floor and she would pick me up again but I just kept falling. Down, down and down until the warm sun left me and I became cold as I went down the drain. It felt like I was never going to stop, that was until I hit the stone floor and my eyes slowly closed. It felt like the end. Like I was never going to get up again. Goodbye world, though you never did much for me.




Note: these stories have not been edited

10 Reasons why you should visit a school Open Day (and what to do)

Visiting a school open day can feel a little bit like visiting the launch of a new shop or restaurant. Sure, you probably won’t get the free glass of bubbly, handful of vouchers and tons of free food but you get the impression that daily life is probably a little different than this. If you feel that way too, then you are probably close to the mark when it comes to school open days. We really try our best to make everyone look good. Everyone and everything. Come the Monday after, you’ll find that it’s back to business as usual but is this a reason not to visit a school open day? We believe it isn’t and we have come up with 10 reasons why you should make the effort anyway.

Although there isn’t any order of importance to these reasons, we do believe that reasons one to three feature at the top of our list for a good reason. If there was an order of importance, then these would be the most important, at least as far as we’re concerned. After reason number three, it’s really anyone’s guess. Some ideas might seem somewhat far-fetched or even controversial and some might seem like complete no-brainers (like ‘bring your child’, which for sheer no-brainer quality, we did not want to list as a top-three idea). Where we can, we’ve also linked some serious sources like the BBC and Country Life. We have focused primarily on what to do but some of the links in this blog post also suggest what to ask, which might be handy.



Okay, this might sound like a no-brainer too but when we say, ‘Meet the teachers’, we mean to say ‘Meet the teachers!‘ Ask those questions (check out some top questions here) but instead of just paying attention to the answers, try to get to know the teachers as human beings. Remember, these are the people that are going to teach your child, support your child, guide your child and be there for your child. Or they may be the people that will fail at all four… Sometimes it can be interesting not to listen to the content of the answer but the way in which it is formulated. Sometimes it can be interesting to see how a teacher engages with you and with your child(ren). In that context, it’s also good to remember this is not the Spanish Inquisition. You can ask difficult questions (more on that further down) but it’s probably best to leave your polygraph machine and 1000 Watt torch at home.



The Head is a little bit like the custodian of the school and its values. They are responsible for school policies, recruitment of teachers, the quality of teaching and learning and so on. With all matters relating to the daily running of the school, the good and the bad, the buck stops with the Head. You may not have a lot of time available to go all Inspector Columbo on the head but you’ll find they usually do some sort of talk or presentation. It is well worth visiting that speech though if you think that’s a sales pitch, well then you’re probably right too. Still, there’s often room for questions and sales pitch or not, it’s still good to hear about the values and the mission of the school.



Most of the time a tour of the school is carried out by pupils, ranging from Year 7 to Sixth Form. It depends on what you’re looking at. Most of the time, these pupils are hand-picked by the organising committee. Most of time the time, the pupils doing these tours are also giving you a sales pitch – sometimes without their even realising it. If you want to get the lay of the land, however, these pupils are your best bet. Even though they’re hand-picked and keen to share with you a portrait of a lovely school, most children find it incredibly difficult not to speak the truth. If you’re going to have your son or daughter prepare any questions, then these are the best people to ask. They go to the school, they have their favourites, they have their not-so-favourites. In short, they’ll either back up, moderate or downright negate whatever the Head told you ten minutes ago.



The no-brainer, yes, but there’s more to reason number four. The ‘needless to say’ bit is that unless your child is too young to understand any of this, there is no argument for him/her to stay at home. Even when you’re checking out a Pre- or Prep-School, during an open day there are plenty of activities on display and they’ll get plenty of play time so that you can talk to staff. Another really good reason to bring your child is that he or she will be a really good barometer as to what you should think of the school. Check how they respond to staff and how they engage. If yours is a sulky teenager, then see how they interact with the (sulky) teenagers doing the tour. Of course you can ask your child what they think of the school. This is often a cursory question on the way back home and often answered with a monosyllabic answer. You might get more of an idea of what they really think by observing them. Well, you might be lucky enough.



This came from the BBC and is pretty high on the ‘no brainer’ list. The Beeb tells you to go to the loo for instance. Not because you have to but because you want to check if it’s clean. Don’t they know that we’re on to their scheming ways by now? All joking aside, you’re there to check out their facilities but plan ahead. What are you looking for? We’d all love to see state-of-the-art facilities, a sports hall with a climbing wall that reaches into the stratosphere and a forest school area that includes deer and badgers. But what if it lacks character? Don’t forget your child(ren) will spend many years here. The school will become a huge part of their life and their memories. Our view is also that the facilities should back up the school’s vision and the school’s ethos. If they say their Arts department is amazing, then where is all the artwork? If they say their co-curriculars are incredibly important, then where are they supposed to take place?



Here’s a bit of school-related maths for you: Bad coffee = bad school. If there’s one thing we have learnt, it is that good teachers will follow the best coffee. If good teachers equals good school and good coffee equals good teachers, then good coffee equals good school. In all seriousness, do taste the food or at least try and see a menu (you can see ours on the Website). The kids have to eat here every school day.



If you’d like to get away from the sales spiels and, ‘Hey we’re amazing – seriously!’, then try and find the Registrar to talk about taster days. A taster day is what it says on the tin. Boarding schools will also do taster stays, where the actual day is extended to two or three days. The registrar or person in charge of admissions will know much more about this and they are excellent opportunities to find out what the school is really about.



Let’s be honest, choosing a school isn’t the same as choosing what to eat on a Friday night. This is a serious decision and like it or not, it is a life-changing decision, if only for one person. Looking after hundreds of young children and teenagers is also a very difficult and complex task, so you want to know how a school plans on doing this. Bullying is a good example here. We hope that there are no more school staff anywhere who say that bullying is not a problem at their school. They’d be lying. You don’t have to ask this question. You can go straight for the next level. What is your policy on bullying? What systems are in place to detect bullying? How do you deal with it in your classroom? Please do not shy away from difficult questions, for a good school will seek to answer your questions as opposed to wishing you hadn’t visited their open day.



That’s right. An open day is also an excellent opportunity to eliminate schools from your wanted list. Not only is this a difficult decision based on facts (see above), it is also a question of gut feel. If you walk through the door and think, ‘No,’ very often you’re probably best to sample the food, drink the coffee and strike through the name of that school. Honestly, we do not mind! Choosing a school is also an emotional decision. It’s got to feel right. Equally so, you may feel that a certain school is just not right for you without visiting it, based on hearsay or another preconceived idea. Why not visit the open day, spend thirty minutes to see if you’re convictions were right or that there is this whole other side that you hadn’t seen before. It is does turn out to be the former, then you can cross that school off the list for good. Well, either that or until the next open day…



There’s something oddly (and perhaps sadistically) rewarding about watching teachers who have to be on their best behaviour. Joking aside, open days can be very nice events to get to know the people inside the school better. They are also ideal to start those relations when you do have a longer-term plan in the back of your mind. Plenty of people visit a number of open days at the same school just to see the school over a period of time. If there isn’t a great staff turnaround, then they get to know the staff a bit better each time. Say there is a great deal of new faces, then what does that mean?


If you would like to find out more about our Open Day, coming up soon (well there’s a surprise-and-a-half), please visit our Open Days page on this Site.

You Teach What?!

Introducing Mrs Helen Lay, teacher of Ethics, Philosophy and Religious Education

Not all teachers are the same. But guess what? Not all subjects are the same either. In this blog, we want to highlight some of the lesser-known or lesser-understood subjects on our curriculum. Starting this series, Helen Lay is teacher of ethics, philosophy, religious education and Theory of Knowledge. Known to staff and students as ToK, theory of knowledge is one of the core requirements of the IB Diploma.

Although Mrs Lay came from a long generation of teachers in her family, it was never her intention to become a teacher herself. Far from it, she remembers her religious education lessons are incredibly dull and uninspiring and Mrs Lay was determined not to be the third generation of teachers.

Back at secondary school, a cover teacher changed Mrs Lay’s attitude towards religious education. All of a sudden, she recalls, the lessons sprung to life when pupils were asked to explore their beliefs. When the cover teacher started inspiring pupils to discuss topics that ranged from totem poles to reincarnation, Mrs Lay remembers thinking, ‘Does she realise which lesson she’s meant to be teaching?’

Fast forward twenty years and Helen Lay made a career change into education, so that she could be more creative and start making a difference to young people’s lives. Remembering the inspiration of her religious education lessons, it was clear that she wanted to teach philosophy and religion. ‘It was clear,’ Mrs Lay added. ‘That I wanted to share my love for these subjects and challenge students to think about life in a meaningful way.’ Ever since this career change, she has been committed to creating and developing lessons that make learning relevant and enjoyable. So much so that Mrs Lay will challenge anyone calling her lessons boring!


Mixing up religion, business studies and art

It is easy and tempting to separate curriculum subjects by the different teachers, classrooms and textbooks; a school bell does the trick. Students pack of their bags and their Chromebooks, clear their minds of whatever that has been done in this period and either look forward to – or dread – the next one. Where Helen Lay is concerned, crossing over subjects is really where the fun starts.

Mrs Lay’s philosophy is as straightforward as it is convincing: If you want to help students succeed, you have to provide a variety of different lesson styles. She talks about a lesson she taught recently in a Year 8 classroom. Students were challenged to promote a piece of religious art to prospective buyers. The buyers had a generous amount of fake money and could take part in either a silent auction or an actual roleplay auction. ‘Of course it was fun,’ Lay admits. ‘But it gave the students an opportunity to show their skills in delivering a powerful sales pitch.’ The following lesson saw the students writing a letter to the church. ‘This is where they had to explain why they had bought this particular piece of religious art, identify truth and interpretation.’


Mindfulness and Yorkshire Grit

In many ways, the Yorkshire Grit programme has transformed co-curricular life at Scarborough College. Nationally recognised for its innovative character, Yorkshire Grit does what it says on the tin. Children are taken out of their comfort zones and introduced to new challenges, new obstacles and new triumphs; providing Yorkshire Grit. However, it is important to point out that Yorkshire Grit is more than surfing in the freezing North Sea or learning bushcraft skills that would make Bear Grylls’s mouth water. Again, Mrs Lay’s ideas come from outside the box.

To Helen Lay, Yorkshire Grit provided an opportunity to confront students with a challenge of a different kind. This was mindfulness. Mrs Lay dedicated the past few years developing a mindfulness programme that could fit inside the Yorkshire Grit programme, aimed at students in Years 7 to 9. ‘Mindfulness is looking after the mind and the body,’ Lay explains. ‘Tailored to these age groups, mindfulness is there to provide students with the tools to manage their own mental health.’

Sessions typically include relaxation techniques and positive thinking activities that encourage student reflection and self esteem. Mrs Lay is convinced that in today’s extremely busy world – including that of secondary school students – it is absolutely crucial to teach the value of non-religious meditation. Taught in small groups, students have an opportunity to explore different approaches to possible issues such as sleeping problems, stress of worries. The aim is that these sessions develop resilience, confidence and – it goes without saying – Yorkshire Grit. The programme has been so successful that it is not uncommon for enthusiastic parents to ask Mrs Lay if they, too, can sign up.


Theory of Knowledge

The ToK is unique to the International Baccaulareate. Full name Theory of Knowledge, this subject teaches students essential  critical thinking skills that are so important in higher education. ToK is a core requirement of the IB Diploma but it also provides an opportunity for students to develop an open-minded approach to life. And if that’s not enough, it may provide an addition three core points.

‘I remember being 18 and being convinced I knew everything,’ Lay says. ‘It’s only later that you realise how much you didn’t know.’ to counter that conviction, ToK is a fantastic way to broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of the world. ‘We explore questions about science, religion, the arts, history and indigenous knowledge.’ In some sense, one could argue that ToK challenges the very nature of fake news. It allows students to question the reliability of what they know, to encourage to question what they know and to check the knowledge that they gain and have gained. ‘Students are challenged to question their own trust in their sense perception and intuition, and to consider the value of different perspectives,’ Mrs Lay continues. ‘I enjoy making these lessons enjoyable while at the same time helping students to start seeing the world as it is, as opposed to how they may see it right now.’

If you would like to know more about the IB Diploma Programme, click here to explore the IB Diploma Programme description or here to discover the Scarborough College Sixth Form. For more information about Mindfulness, please check the Websites below. To find out more about the Yorkshire Grit programme, visit the dedicated Yorkshire Grit page.

Guided confidence meditation for kids (and adults)

Young Minds

Compass Buzz

World Sleep Day – Importance of sleep

Top-10 Best School Subject Films

Anyone growing up in the 80s of Flock of Seagulls and the 90s of the Macarena will undoubtedly also have grown up with the phenomenon of the High School movie, followed by the High School series. From Pretty in Pink to The Breakfast Club and from Degrassi Junior High to arguably the most famous postcode in the world and West Beverly High; many teaching staff today will raised on a diet of Principal Belding and Edward R. Rooney. They are likely to know the origins of the phrase, ‘You’re a slacker’ and tell you exactly who said it and to whom.

With so many weird, wonderful, wacky and wise role models, we thought it might be a nice idea to ask our teaching staff for a little bit of educational movie advice and to challenge them to come up with their favourite film that is somehow connected to the subject that they teach. In true educational style, we also asked them for the reasons why. It may not come as a surprise that many staff opted to gloss over this last question.

This would not be an interesting blog post if we didn’t have a couple of surprises up our sleeves. If you look beyond the usual suspects, you might find a little inspiration for a Netflix playlist. If you are struggling with a particular subject, it may be useful to know which film your teacher believes is good to watch. It may not help you in your studies but you could perhaps score some brownie points by striking up an ‘interesting’ conversation about ‘this film’ you happened to watch last night. If nothing else, it might be a decent list for the chilly North Yorkshire nights that are in store.

Biology We will be honest here, with biology teachers looking into subject-specialist motion pictures, we were getting a little bit concerned. Luckily, they came up with the less-controversial biological topic of – well – staying alive. Based on the book The Martian, the film The Martian features some interesting elements of science and biology. This blog post, The Martian: A Science Movie Review in Physics Today, has a couple of fantastic paragraphs about farming on Mars (in case anyone’s interested) and musings on body heat.

English Bracing ourselves for Robin Williams, ‘Oh Captain!, My captain!’ and quite a lot of sadness; we were surprised to find Educating Rita on the English department list. The, now, slightly not-so correct story of an English professor with issues and a young woman intent on making changes in her life against all the odds. Completely new to some of us was the wonderful Akeelah and the Bee. Interestingly, this film is quite similar to Educating Rita though in lots of different ways. This is the story of a young girl with a great talent for spelling. Without anyone supporting her dream of winning the national spelling Bee, she is discovered by a mysterious teacher who starts tutoring her.

Maths There are a number of excellent mathematically charged films, including A Beautiful Mind and The Imitation Game, both of which are based on true stories.  Chosen by our maths department, Hidden Figures is another biographical drama that focuses on the role of three black American female mathematicians during the Space Race.  It is much more common to see white male characters in these types of films, so it is refreshing to watch such an empowering story set amidst the racial segregation of 1960s America.  The film tells the story of Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury; Dorothy Vaughan, a mathematician and NASA supervisor; and Mary Jackson, a NASA engineer.  This truly is a story of resilience.

History Strangely enough, the choice for history was actually made by one of our English teachers!  The History Boys is a fantastic film that examines all aspects of education. Written originally as a play by Alan Bennett, the film stars a very young James Corden in one of his early roles, acting alongside the late, great Richard Griffiths and other famous faces, such as Frances de la Tour and Dominic Cooper.  The marvelous thing about this film is that all the actors originated the roles for the stage, so the characterisation is incredible. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll never look at the entrance system for Oxford and Cambridge in the same way again.

Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: one of the most revered composers of all time.  It is natural, then, that the music department would choose the biographical film Amadeus for this list.  Although not factually correct, the film does give a great sense of the life of a composer in the 18th century.

Physics Several films were thrown into the mix by the physics department, but the clear favourite was Interstellar.  Directed and produced by Christopher Nolan, best known for the Dark Knight Trilogy, this is a brilliantly imaginative film, which weaves together realistic physics (as explained by Space.com) and educated guesses, with a healthy ‘but-what-if’ sci-fi speculation thrown in for good measure.  However, like many other speculative science films – and other Christopher Nolan ones – we have been warned that this will make your brain hurt by the end!

Chemistry When you think of potions, what film automatically springs to mind?  It has to be the Harry Potter series. Based on the best-selling books by J. K. Rowling, these films focus on the life of the eponymous child wizard, and much of school life at Hogwarts.  Potions master Severus Snape, played by the sadly departed Alan Rickman, is one of the most memorable teachers of the series. Join Harry and friends as they produce such concoctions and spells as Felix Felicis (Liquid Luck), Amortentia (a love potion) and, my personal favourite, Polyjuice Potion, which turns Hermione into a cat!

Boarding One of the fantastic things about Harry Potter is the presentation of boarding, but there are other films that show this side of school life.  Who could forget the old St. Trinian’s films and their modern counterparts? But the focus here is on the 2008 teen romantic comedy Wild Child.  Starring Emma Roberts (the niece of the slightly more famous Julia), this film follows affluent Malibu teenager Poppy Moore, who is forced into an English boarding school after her father becomes exasperated with her wild behaviour.  Despite being initially reluctant to follow the school rules and participate in school activities, Poppy eventually makes friends and enjoys her time at boarding school. Now where have we seen this before?!

ESL A very seasonal choice has been provided for us here!  The Disney version of A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey as Scrooge is an absolute favourite.  From beginners to more advanced students, everyone can recognise the inspiring message about kindness throughout.

Drama Last, but by no means least, we have the choice of our LAMDA teachers – Fame  There have been various incarnations of this story through the years, from the short-lived TV show to the stage musical, to the recent adaptation, but the best has to be the original 1980 film version.  Partially inspired by the musical A Chorus Line, the film follows a group of students through their four years at the High School for the Performing Arts (known as “PA”) in New York. Originally cast as a dancer, Irene Cara impressed the producers and screenwriter so much with her singing voice that they rewrote the role of Coco to include singing.  Cara went on to singe the title song “Fame”, which won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

There you have it. Not quite a top-10 of films or even a top-10 of subjects and perhaps not a list of films worthy of Academy fame but we do hope that one or two of titles might work if you are failing to come to terms, so to speak, with one of the subjects above. We’re off to submit our playlist, buy popcorn and fix our soundbar.




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