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Pulse magazine - Enrichment at Holyhead

posted by J Grant

You can access Pulse, the Holyhead Magazine online, by clicking on the picture link below.

The Chineke Foundation

posted Jun 13, 2019, 1:34 AM by J Grant   [ updated Jun 13, 2019, 2:37 AM ]


A Quartet of musicians from the internationally renowned Chineke Orchestra visited Holyhead school on Wednesday 12th June, to deliver a classical music workshop for Year 8 and 9 students.

The Chineke! Foundation was established in 2015 to provide career opportunities to young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s motto is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’. The organisation aims to be a catalyst for change, realising existing diversity targets within the industry by increasing the representation of BME musicians in British and European orchestras.

Our students were both encouraged to seek a career as a professional musician, as well as the possibility of doing so, particularly as a classical musician, either as a soloist, or as part of an ensemble.

Holyhead School Presentation Evening Highlights 2019

posted Apr 9, 2019, 1:01 AM by J Grant

STEM Event by Ahead Partnership and Mott MacDonald

posted Mar 25, 2019, 4:45 AM by J Grant   [ updated Mar 25, 2019, 4:57 AM ]

Last Monday, we had the opportunity to bring in an external team from Mott MacDonald, a global engineering company, in association with Ahead Partnership.

They came in to work with our Year 8 students setting them an infrastructure and sustainability challenge. This STEM event was focused around careers within the civil engineering industry.

It was a really fantastic event with feedback showing students loved the opportunity to work in teams on the challenge, drawing on the maps, planning the routes, and questioning the employees.

A few quotes pulled out from the students on what they liked about the event:
  • “Learning about metro’s and technology” 
  • “That we got to see how things are planned out” 
  • “I liked how we got a brief, and information about what they do. It was very interesting and fun” 
  • “I got to learn about the way they work to make tram stations and tracks.” 
Many of the students present, raised their hands to say they were drawn to a career role they’d learnt about during the day. 

On a final note, the visitors were super impressed with the organisation of the event and our students, and have already been in touch regarding another similar event for our Year 9 girls to inspire them into STEM careers.


posted Mar 22, 2019, 1:21 AM by J Grant   [ updated Mar 22, 2019, 1:26 AM ]

Ahead of performing at Symphony Hall in April, Handsworth-born drummer Carl Palmer will visit Holyhead School later this month and meet aspiring musicians from his hometown.

Carl Palmer is one of the most respected rock drummers to emerge from the 1960s, a veteran of many banks including Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) and Asia. He was born in Handsworth in 1950.

Yvonne O’Sullivan, Music Teacher at Holyhead School, said: “At Holyhead School, we are extremely proud of how talented our young artists are and we are always keen to provide them with musical opportunities. Having Carl visit our school is something that we are all very excited about, after all, how often do you get a rock star, born from the same area as you, come and visit you in your own school and talk to you about something you’re passionate about? Especially as arts and music education can be overlooked, it is important, now more than ever, that students have interactions with experienced artists helping to inspire and encourage them to pursue their talents.” Carl Palmer said: “It’s great to be back in Handsworth, where my life as a musician began and was the start of a long career that has taken me all over the world, and to share my experiences with the young people at Holyhead School.”

Town Hall Symphony Hall have collaborated with Holyhead School on introducing their pupils to a number of musicians from Handsworth in recent months. The arts charity have secured workshops from award-winning alto-saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch, winner of BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 Xhosa Cole and award-winning jazz, soul and broken beat songstress Julie Dexter ahead of their performances in the city.

Holyhead School is an 11-19 Academy at the heart of Soho Ward, a vibrant and aspirational community with a deep sense of its own heritage and culture. Students enter the school with attainment levels significantly below national average (RaiseOnline) but go on to achieve whatever they set their minds to. Ofsted recognised the school as ‘Outstanding’ in 2013 and again in 2015.


posted Feb 7, 2019, 6:53 AM by J Grant   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 12:25 AM ]

A new book is set to use music to tackle issues around mental health and bullying often faced by today’s teens. Written by celebrity vocal coach and mentor to rising stars of The X Factor and The Voice, CeCe Sammy, the debut educational guide uses music therapy techniques to help young people overcome societal pressures and challenges. ‘If You Can Speak You Can Sing’, draws upon CeCe’s professional life as a vocal and motivational coach and her personal life as a survivor of a brain aneurysm, which left her unable to speak or breath independently. CeCe believes music played a vital role in her recovery as, whilst recuperating in the hospital, she saw a direct correlation between music and an increase in her mental and physical stimulation. As well as offering vocal tips and tricks,‘If You Can Speak, You Can Sing’ features real-life stories of rising music stars Asher Knight and Luena Martinez, both of whom have experienced bullying, anxiety and low self-esteem. Alongside CeCe, Asher and Luena are currently touring schools around the UK, offering students the chance to take part in an ‘If You Can Speak, You Can Sing’ masterclass. These will showcase the music therapy techniques set out in the guide, whilst helping to inspire students by hearing first hand examples of how music has helped young people to overcome adversity. Also hosting the masterclasses will be 15-year-old former Open Mic UK competition winner Denis Coleman, who addresses handling school work and exam pressures with his peers, and 21-year-old former Brit School student James CC, who teaches youth empowerment exercises. The tour is part of CeCe’s ‘Power of Muzik’ initiative, which visits schools up and down the UK to encourage open conversation around mental health and inspire young people to use music as a medium to help tackle issues, such as anxiety or depression. The booklet also includes lyrics to songs exclusively created for the Power of Muzik schools tour. CeCe Sammy comments, “I hope that my new book will encourage young people to use music to help them face issues such as anxiety head on. It’s an educational tool that promotes positivity, confidence and openness through the power of music. Today’s teenagers face so many challenges as they grow up, so I can’t wait to showcase the techniques in UK schools to inspire and empower young people.”


posted Jan 8, 2019, 1:11 AM by J Grant   [ updated May 23, 2019, 4:41 AM ]

A group of Year 8 students recently visited Ipsley RSA Academy in Redditch as part of the RSA 8 Leadership programme and we were joined by the other RSA family of schools. The aim of this programme is to build on leadership skills through social action campaign.

The day started with an ice-breaker from Talk the Talk team - more details about them here -

The students participated in a number of workshops and masterclasses to increase confidence in communication and looked at how to deliver a structured presentation to their peer. Students were also being taught to identify and use persuasive language techniques to get their message across. Plus this workshop highlights and nurtures employability skills, interview techniques and key presentation methods. This event was documented and filmed for the RSA Academy for the website.

Quotes from the students -
  • Tekalah - I feel more enthusiastic. 
  • Ellie - Boost up my confidence. 
  • Elesha - Helped me with delivering a good speech. 
  • Smilepreet - Builds up my confidence in presentation skills. 
  • Antonio - Always try your best - give it a go. 
  • Zayn - Confident to talk to strangers and to deliver a presentation. 
  • Tanish - Improve my communication skills. 
  • Mavish - “Con” in confident is a trick Con = Trick “You never have confidence at first, pretend you have it and it just comes naturally.” 
  • Belal - We learnt SSSSS - Stand with Confidence; Stride with purpose; Smile; Speak up; Stay for applause

Japan Experience: Sixth Form Travel Tour 2018

posted Jan 8, 2019, 12:21 AM by J Grant   [ updated Jan 8, 2019, 12:57 AM ]

The 9-day Study Tour took place during the 2018 October half term holiday and involved 12 Year 13 students accompanied by Mr Knox, Mrs Honeyghan and Mrs Mander along with Rory Steele from the British organising charity, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation who funded the visit in full.

The Tour was based around Osaka, a city with a population of 2.3 million and there were also visits to the original capital city of Japan, Kyoto and Hiroshima, the site of the first use of a nuclear weapon against a civilian population in August 1945.

The programme in Japan was explicitly designed to reflect the history, the geography, the social, the religious and the cultural aspects of Japan, so that the students had a broad base for comparison with life in the UK. Students and teachers were accommodated in Japanese homestays with Japanese families except for the night of arrival, and one mid-week visit where the group stayed at a traditional Japanese Inn on the island of Miyajima.

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation aims to give students, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, first-hand experience of the life and culture of Japan. The Study Tour was born from the desire, therefore, to give more of these young students the opportunity to visit Japan and to experience the life and culture of a country so very different from their own. The programme has been running since 2002, with a different Sixth Form each year being given this chance, so for Holyhead to be selected was an incredible privilege and an honour.

As a set of new experiences in a fairly intensive programme, the Tour was hectic and challenging, meaning that the participants needed to be suitable young ambassadors for not only Holyhead School, but also our country, and therefore needed to have a level of intellectual curiosity and maturity and independence that would enable them to benefit from a trip of this kind.

The selected students from Holyhead did an amazing job at this. They were everything that was hoped for and much more. Students fully embraced this amazing experience in every possible way, from building wonderful relationships with their home-stay families to navigating the city’s public transport network independently, from asking sensitive, yet pointed questions to Buddhist monks and A-bomb survivors, and most importantly to trying everything that Japan had to offer them. This was not only an opportunity of a lifetime, but it was a challenge of a lifetime at the age of 18. 

Travelling for over 24 hours, arriving in a city with such different language and customs, living with a family of strangers far from home with the challenge of becoming part of a family in a very short space of time and overcoming jetlag were just a few of the novel experiences that needed to be faced and overcome. In meeting these challenges, the staff and students were able to find out that Japan is an incredibly warm and welcoming country, that its people show kindness and generosity in equal measure, and that this is a society that wants to learn about Britain in the same way that our students wanted to find out about Japan.

Soweto and Xhosa

posted Dec 18, 2018, 11:10 PM by J Grant   [ updated Jan 9, 2019, 12:29 AM ]

Watch our very own BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 Xhosa Cole and local award-winning saxophonist Soweto Kinch, perform an interview for the BBC, while conducting a music workshop here at Holyhead.

Telling the other story: Narratives without borders

posted Dec 13, 2018, 1:17 AM by J Grant   [ updated Dec 13, 2018, 1:26 AM ]

Home was here: Birmingham, England. Home was not in Limerick, Ireland; approximately 372 miles away. But one long weekend has managed to change my very idea of home and now I tell you: Home is where the soul is. 

On the 16th of November 2018, I travelled with five other students from Holyhead to Limerick, (courtesy of Narrative 4 and University of Birmingham.) A journey filled to the brim with nerves. A foreign country, with foreign people and a foreign culture. I wasn’t going to fit in; I had already decided that I wasn’t going to belong and the weekend would be a series of awkward, forced ‘hello’s’, ‘how are you’s?’ and an arty-farty story exchange. 

But it was far from it. Warmth is the word that now comes to mind when I think of Limerick. (Which is ironic, considering it was very cold.) Warmth and unity. When I first met the Irish students. The first part was relatively true; awkward, forced greetings and icebreakers that really didn’t break the ice. However, that wasn’t unique to Ireland because I’ve realised that’s how a lot of encounters begin and then end the same way. If it wasn’t for the story exchange that followed, we would’ve met the same fate.

The following day, Saturday 17th, was a long day with two creative writing workshops in which we were taught the importance of venturing beyond our comfort zones, stepping into the unknown and making it our own. “Many people advise you as a writer to ‘write what you know’ as a word of wisdom for success.” Ruth Gilligan, the inspirational woman spent two years organising the entire trip would often say something along the lines of this. She’d then proceed to tell us about why it was important that we did write what we knew, that we talked about our experiences as an individual, that we tell our story.. And then finally, she’d ask, ‘What about writing what you don’t know?’ When I first heard her say it I thought it sounded pretty nice. It was a catchy, rebellious statement. I liked it. That was all that I thought of it until the end of that Saturday where we were invited to the ‘Telling the Other Story’ public event in which several authors including Ruth read extracts of their own and each other’s novels. Each story was distinct from one another and also distinguishable from the authors. Donal Ryan was not Farouk, a Syrian doctor who strove to protect his wife and daughter from a war-torn Syria, now without a home. But he didn’t have to be. He had written the other story, he had told the story of the real lives of millions of Syrians who have lost their families, their homes and their lives to the hardship and hatred that has taken their country. He has shown empathy.

The next day was the dreaded story exchange: Sunday 18th. Anxiety was thick in the air as we were randomly assigned our partners to exchange our stories before sharing the story with the group as your partner in the first person. Two by two, people were shipped off to find a quiet place together, with every two the room seemed to be closing in… and then finally I heard my name. ‘Kadeja and Aaron.’ Ruth said before I locked eyes with a tall, blue-eyed boy smiling dutifully. Oh no, I thought. I bowed my head and quickly shuffled out the room. I hadn’t met him, I hadn’t even had the chance to say an awkward hello to him or even attempt to break the ice. We were given approximately one whole hour to get to know each other, exchange stories and then tell it back for each other. Looking back at it, I only wish I could stretch the hour for days because within a few minutes we were laughing and making jokes and then by the end of the hour we were hugging, telling each other we’d be great out there, that we’d be there for each other.

When they finally called us, we sat in a circle and it was evident the ice had cracked somewhat; the barrier had shifted. Everyone was smiling and chatting as if they’ve known each other for months. And then it was finally time to tell the story. I was first. ‘Hi, my name is Aaron and this is my story...’ I began and that’s all I remember before I slipped into his shoes and became him and lived his story of loss and betrayal with him; I told his story. And then he told mine and Ms Daya told Ms Mahoney’s and Clem told Mercy’s and Sam told Danielle’s and Aimee told Samar’s and Emily told Kishan’s… by the end of it, we were had tried on a dozen pair of shoes and downed almost two packs of tissues. I felt warm. My story told them as much as their story told me: we were the same. We were as human as each other with the same emotions and the same desires and the same sorrows. I guess you could say the barrier was broken, but I think it would be slightly more accurate to say the barrier was a mere fragment of our of imagination. We were not strangers, we had known each other for years.

Home is where the soul is. I left part of my soul in Limerick with my story, part of me lives there and will continue living there. I brought back stories with me, we all brought back stories with us and there is a home for them here.

Kadeja 13E

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